To NFT or not to NFT

by Anna Seaman

In a continued effort to support the various communities within the NFT space comes another crosspost. This post originally appeared here.

Since the historic Christie’s and Beeple drop in March, the three letters N, F and T have morphed into one of the world’s most talked about acronyms. They carry with them a sense of mystery as well as an air of confidence for those in the know. Use the acronym boldly in conversation and you tell your friends, that yes indeed, you know exactly what an NFT is. But, let’s be honest, six months ago (or maybe more for a select few), had you even heard of the word fungible? At a guess, you might have thought it referred to some kind of mushroom, right? So, now that you know that an NFT is a non-fungible token, you feel comfortable to move the word into general parlance. Quick side note for anyone reading this who is still thinking about googling it, let me spare you the effort. If something is fungible, you can exchange it for something else. Commodities, common shares, options, and dollar bills are all examples of fungible goods. Assets like diamonds, land, or baseball cards are not fungible because each unit has unique qualities that add or subtract value. Enter the world of NFTs. Digital assets that are stored on blockchains and which are used to represent items such as artworks, photos, videos, audio, and other types of files. Many people all over the world are embracing the possibilities that NFTs bring to creative industries. They are a game changer for artists, freeing them from physical boundaries and geographical borders as well as protecting their intellectual property rights and bringing them life-long royalties. MORROW collective, the NFT curatorial platform that I co-founded in March 2021, exists to bring artworks with engaging narrative and substance to wider audiences, enabled by the crypto-world of NFTs.

But something else is happening with that little acronym that I, as a writer and a wordsmith, find interesting. Those three letters are taking on a life of their own. Firstly, they have become a word in their own right. An NFT; the noun, the object, the thing has separated itself from the clunky and rarely used phrase ‘non-fungible token’. And then, the word meandered its way casually through the range of grammatical definitions. I asked someone the other day, what his creative agency does and he replied: “We help our artists to NFT their works.” Hmm, my copyeditor spider senses pricked immediately. To NFT? Is that a verb, I hear? What once was noun is now a verb and this new presentation of the acronym refers to both things.

I started paying closer attention to my conversations as the days passed, and I found that this was not a one-off, many people have hijacked the acronym to use in their own ways. “I’m working on NFTing my latest collection,” an artist told me. NFTing? Is that a present participle or a gerund? I think the latter is more likely. A gerund is the –ing form of a verb that functions the same as a noun. I know that we are getting into the nitty gritty of English grammar and I’ll bet that most of you reading this feel the same way about gerund as you did about fungible. The point is, that this is fascinating for those interested in language and more broadly it speaks about something else: the mainstreaming of NFTs (spot the gerund). As the word becomes more and more commonplace and the public come to understand the revolutionary potential of NFTs, cryptocurrency and decentralisation, I believe that language will change with it. Perhaps the noun/verb will become an adjective/adverb. Can something be NFTy? Maybe there will be metamorphisation of other technical terms that we are yet to discover. One thing is for sure, the future of NFTs and crypto is exciting from whatever angle you approach it. And that leaves me with one last thing to say: To NFT or not to NFT, that is the question.

Anna Seaman, curator, MORROW collective

MORROW collective is an NFT curatorial platform founded in March 2021 by Claire Harris, Anna Seaman and Jen Stelco. MORROW collective builds the bridge between traditional art and crypto art by hosting virtual exhibitions of individually curated single edition NFT artworks and linking collectors to their physical counterparts. Comprising a team of professionals with deep experience in traditional contemporary art, cryptoart, curation, editorial, marketing, communications and technology, MORROW provides a premium service for existing galleries and artists. MORROW collective are owners of multiple gallery spaces across the most sought after and exclusive Metaverse platforms and collectors with an extensive portfolio including some of the world’s leading crypto artists.

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