Non-fungible tokens are unique—that’s the whole point, and the reason why some NFTs sell for millions of dollars. The value proposition is their scarcity, which is verifiable via blockchain.
But one of the foremost NFT artists, pplpleasr, says the NFT space is overly reliant on trust—despite the “trustless” blockchain technology upon which it is based. There’s nothing to stop artists from minting the same file as an NFT on multiple platforms, she said at the 2021 Ethereal Virtual Summit powered by Decrypt.
"It's very much trust-based," pplpleasr said. "For example, I minted an NFT somewhere, that's very much reliant on trust for me to not mint the exact same NFT on another platform. And as of current, I think there's not really anything that kind of prevents that... I think that's probably one of the bigger issues right now. But it's also interesting to see that I think most people have been respectful of that, and nobody's been violating it. I mean, it also kind of defeats the purpose of NFTs as well, if you do."
Most NFTs are currently “hosted” on a Web3 protocol called the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Decrypt also uses it to host our content. But IPFS is a way to reference the location of a piece of data rather than store it. (And pplpleasr says IPFS "has a lot of issues.")
The actual location of the .gif, .jpeg or .mp4 that an NFT points to could be stored anywhere, and most of the big NFT marketplaces store your NFTs themselves, rather than on-chain.
Decentralization is at the heart of pplpleasr’s NFT career. In March, she sold an NFT out of a flashy advertisement she made for decentralized exchange Uniswap for $525,000.
The buyer was PleasrDAO—a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that her fans set up to pool money through smart contracts.
PleasrDAO has moved on from its sole devotion to pplpleasr’s artwork; last month, the same DAO bought Edward Snowden’s NFT for $5.4 million.
Pplpleasr, like the PleasrDAO she inspired, is committed to decentralization. But neither she nor the PleasrDAO can shift the market alone. “Because everybody is so centric on Ethereum and ERC-20s right now, it's really hard to sort of migrate over [to another platform],” she said. “Also you have to take into consideration collectors and fan base, all this kind of stuff. And so even with high gas fees, at least so far, it seems like Ethereum is the way to go."
But she hopes the NFT space will branch out.
And it has certainly made a lot of progress already, she said—when she minted her first NFT on Rarible, the platform didn’t let her include audio, and restricted the file size to 10MB for .gifs. That’s certainly not in line with her videos, which most NFT platforms now support.
"It's definitely moving quickly," she said. "I'm excited for it to sort of catch up and then see where that takes us."
Editor's note: The headline of this story was changed on May 12 to more accurately represent what pplpleasr said in reference to NFT sites.
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