Why You Can’t Just Screenshot an NFT

Why You Can’t Just Screenshot an NFT

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How can a JPEG cost money?
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The biggest question I hear about NFTs is: “Why can’t I just screenshot that?” Or, put another way, why does a digital image that can be copied have any value? The answer, it turns out, isn’t in an explainer about blockchain technology (you’re welcome). The answer to why NFTs have any value is hiding in the art market that came before them. Because NFTs are weird, but it turns out art is already even weirder. To really understand NFTs, we have to zoom out a bit, and talk about the incredibly strange way we value art to begin with. And that story starts not with crypto, but with a fight at an art auction in 1973…

This video explains why a JPEG can cost money, and how expensive art led to NFTs. Along the way, I get help from two incredible experts: David Galperin, head of contemporary art for the Americas at Sotheby’s, and Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit and investor.

David tells me about how the Scull Sale in 1973 exploded the art market forever, how Andy Warhol gave his silk screens to appropriation artist Elaine Sturtevant so she could copy his prints, and how Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings go for millions but the value is in “the certificate, not the drawing.” Alexis gives me a tour of his NFT collection (!), shows me the Cryptopunk (Serenapunk!) he gave to his wife Serena Williams, and explains how this technology has become a new medium for artists looking to the future. Together, we explore the big questions people are asking about NFTs and how the art world has grappled with those same questions for decades: What is value? Where does it come from? What is too much, for too little?

00:00 Why do people buy NFTs?
01:04 How are NFTs like contemporary art?
03:41 Why is art so expensive?
05:10 Is art just money laundering?
06:07 Why do people buy NFTs?
07:41 Are NFTs just a link to an image?
08:47 Why do NFTs matter?
10:24 How do I do sponsorships?

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I tell different stories in different places:
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Cleo Abram is an Emmy-nominated video producer and journalist. Cleo produces detailed explainer stories about technology and economics. She wrote the Coding and Diamonds episodes of Vox’s Netflix show, Explained, was the host and a senior producer of Vox’s first ever daily show, Answered, as well as a host and producer of Vox’s YouTube Originals show, Glad You Asked. She now makes her own independent show, Huge If True. Each episode takes on one big technology innovation or idea, explains what it is, and helps people imagine the ways it could improve the world we live in by answering one simple question: If this works, what could go right?

Sources and additional reading:
– “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art,” Don Thompson https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780230620599/the12millionstuffedshark
– “The Price of Everything” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iejpS_PpPJk&ab_channel=HBO
– “Museum of Forgeries,” MSCHF ​​https://moforgeries.org/
– “Scull’s U.S. Art Brings Record $2 Million,” New York Times, 1973 https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1973/10/19/93293442.html?pageNumber=57
– “Screenshotting NFTS” Know Your Meme https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/screenshotting-nfts
– “The Story of Contemporary Art,” Tony Godfrey https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/story-contemporary-art
– “look what i made for you” GB ‘Doc’ Burford https://docseuss.medium.com/look-what-i-made-for-you-apparently-while-i-am-not-a-dumbass-many-cryptobros-are-and-i-am-going-f6468c877acc
– “Line Goes Up – The Problem With NFTs” Folding Ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ_xWvX1n9g&t=1s&ab_channel=FoldingIdeas
– “Why people are buying cartoon cats on the blockchain” (my first ever Vox video, 2018!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGfvkjzLrNw&t=304s&ab_channel=Vox
– “NFTs, Explained,” Johnny Harris https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz9zw7-_vhM&t=541s&ab_channel=JohnnyHarris

Vox: https://www.vox.com/authors/cleo-abram
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm10108242/

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Music: Musicbed

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