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NFTs, status and creativity

Started by droqen, November 05, 2021, 01:06:35 PM

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My gut reaction: I hate this. I will hate this. That's fine.

Making this thread: I'm going to go through point by point and see exactly what it is I hate, and how much of it makes sense.



QuoteNFTs are nothing more than tokens [..] except not fungible.

QuoteIf someone sends you the token, you can be sure that they don't have it anymore. It can't be copied, hacked, etc, because it shares the same technological advancement that is Bitcoin, which is the introduction of scarcity to the digital realm.

QuoteBack in 2014 a lot of people would talk about how some future uses of Bitcoin would involve tokenizing things in the real world. For instance, a house or a car. If house/car ownership is represented as a token, the process of ownership transfer becomes extremely easy, since it's just about sending the token from one wallet to another.

QuoteWhile the idea of tokenizing the world is good, there's no obvious path from Bitcoin to it.

Claim: "the idea of tokenizing the world is good"
Supporting evidence: Ownership transfer becomes extremely easy; the token can't be copied, hacked, etc;

Quote[..]NFTs initiated the process of, let's say, conditioning the general public, into accepting that digital tokens have inherent value and can be exchanged for real money.

And once this process is complete, well, then it's only a matter of time until everything that can be tokenized becomes tokenized. To understand why this is desirable at all, let's engage in an exercise:[..]

OK, it's exercise time.


November 05, 2021, 01:57:30 PM #3 Last Edit: November 05, 2021, 01:59:22 PM by droqen
PART 2. How to kill Steam

QuoteThe main problem with killing Steam, and this is a problem that everyone who has tried to create their own store has faced, is creating enough momentum in your own store so that network effects make it take off and make it a viable business that can generate profits on its own and grow. [..] Steam is too powerful. It's powerful because too many users have their games locked in the platform, and the platform also happens to provide a lot of additional value on top of just being a storage facility for people's games.

QuoteOne way to solve the cold start problem with crypto is by literally paying people to use your store.

Quoteyou play the game and you can make tokens from playing. This is not conceptually different from people earning bitcoin by mining it.

I'm curious how this works without being easily-cheated. But sure.

QuoteSimilarly to Bitcoin, early adopters are rewarded massively, as token rewards for each task are higher earlier on, and over time these tokens will increase in value as the company's value appreciates (if the project catches on, that is). This setup, of giving people a percentage of all tokens generated, costs you, the developer of the platform, nothing. All you have to do is build your project, and issue tokens (shares) of your company to the public based on them using your project.

How does this help you kill Steam? Well, it solves the cold start problem.

my summary of what i understand about this idea:

Minting our own currencies allows us to create mini-economical 'bubbles' where users can be rewarded for playing.

I think a327ex is failing to recognize that everything is already capable of doing this without NFTs? Games already do this locally -- investing in playing a game to unlock new stuff (not online, but literally on your device) is investing in perceiving the game and its rewards as valuable. Bringing it beyond the game in steps: See the economy of Animal Crossing. See grey markets for literal money. See status as a service social media platforms. NFTs are just one particular technological implementation of such a value-fantasy.


November 05, 2021, 02:03:13 PM #4 Last Edit: November 05, 2021, 02:15:20 PM by droqen
PART 2 1/2. GameForFun, DevForFun, World tokenization

QuoteNow imagine what this setup, when it comes about, will do to traditional stores like Steam. It makes absolutely no sense to use Steam anymore as you have a tremendous amount of incentives to both use the DFF engine and GFF store, as you're literally getting paid to do so
... in speculative currency, investing your time in penny stocks. You're getting paid, but I'm not convinced about the value of this kind of micro-incentive. Do I want players, or do I want gig workers?

(Are these two roles mutually exclusive?)

Quotethe technology that drives both of these products is actually just fundamentally better on multiple fronts.

'Better on multiple fronts' is too vague, broad a claim to be addressed; I am not fit to judge the quality of the technology described, and 'quality' is based on values. What makes it better? Better in what way, and for whom? This is imaginary technology, so the only thing of substance are its goals (i.e. one cannot make a claim about the implementation/execution quality of imaginary technology). Are the goals of this technology fundamentally better?

QuoteDecentralized game stores then simply act as readers of game tokens, and if you own the token for a specific game you can go to a store and download it. Now imagine this for every digital good. Movies, music, books, anything. Everyone who worked on any collective artistic endeavor would automatically be paid fairly for their work, and if you own a token to that piece of media you'd just be able to go to a decentralized store and access the content

This sounds interesting in theory, and I'm seeing the value. A decentralized network that basically rewards everyone in the chain automagically, backed up by the structure presumably described in the previous paragraphs (again: I am not engaging with the guts described, just the goals. I am taking on good faith for the moment that the described dynamics will come to pass).

These decentralized stores are just torrent peers who agree to uphold the rules. ... What's keeping everyone honest? Pirates are already a thing, and people still buy stuff. I'm OK with pirating. In theory, I'm also fine with this.

QuoteSimilarly, all your social media information would also be tokenizable, and you'd own it yourself, instead of it being centralized on twitter, or reddit, or whatever. And all platforms would do would be read that information and display it however they would. You wouldn't be able to get banned or deleted off the internet because you actually own the information and platforms simply have read access to it.

Hold on... where is the information stored though?

I am generally not afraid at all of getting banned or deleted off the internet. It's sort of a pain that, for example, I accidentally half-created the Instagram account @droqen and lost the password and all means of ever accessing it, so now I have the Instagram account @droqen2. But a decentralized system would have the same issues -- no person would have the ability to fix these problems for anyone, anywhere, ever... unless they got really popular and a majority of decentralized nodes or whatever all agreed to bend the rules for me.

On one hand, is this democracy?

On the other hand, no, it's a pathocracy -- as if the opposite of apathy is 'pathy', a pathocracy is driven by any decision about which enough users can muster enough giving-a-shit-about to collectively do something about.


I googled pathocracy and it's already a word and it doesn't mean what I coined it, above, to mean. Fine.


PART 3. Artists & gamedevs

QuoteI've described why I like NFTs. But now we must understand why others don't like it.


This is the part I really wanted to get to, tbh. But I think I mined some interesting conclusions out of the first two parts, too, that i'm going to revisit later on. OK, let's get into it.


Quotethe 2 main arguments against NFTs are that they are bad for the environment and that they are scams. It's literally of no use to mention that many chains now are proof of stake and have negligible effect on the environment. It's equally pointless to try to argue that while scams are indeed bad, as long as you're not doing them yourself that shouldn't really affect your decisions, right?

Here's the gist of what I think a3 is saying:

The primary arguments against NFTs are general arguments which shouldn't apply to all individuals who engage with NFTs, unless they are doing these bad things.

Primary argument #1 is "NFTs are bad for the environment". Most making this argument will not acknowledge that many NFTs use proof of stake, which is in fact not bad for the argument.

Primary argument #2 is "NFTs are scams". Most making this argument will not acknowledge that individuals, who are not scammers, should not be punished as a result.


My response to the gist:

NFTs are a new thing that previously had no value whatsoever. If a person buys into the idea that any NFT has value, although they might consider certain NFTs to be scams and damaging to the environment and therefore bad, it is still lending legitimacy to the previously nonexistent belief that NFTs have value.

The main stance against NFTs is: "They do not currently have value in my worldview, and to alter my worldview in order to give them value will be granting value to something that is, on the whole, net harmful. Therefore I refuse to acknowledge them."

It's "literally of no use to mention" that "many chains now are proof of stake" or that "not all of them are scams so the non-scammy NFTs are fine" because the issue is of accepting something that is at once simultaneously valueless, and harmful; these particular defenses of NFTs do not describe how NFTs are harmless, merely that they are less harmful...

The question of value is more difficult to resolve, but it is the case that these particular defenses of NFTs do not address that issue.


Let's address value.

QuoteArtists & gamedevs are given a new tool that enables them to make some good money. They don't have to be starving artists anymore.

So the argument here is that, in fact, NFTs do provide value. They are a new tool that enables them to make some good money.

QuoteThey don't have to be starving artists anymore. Yet most of them reply to this tool with "no". According to Jonathan Blow, it's because most of them want to be comfortable and not successful. They don't want to take risks on something new and unproven, and the thing already has a somewhat negative reputation, so why risk it. And while this is a good answer it can further divided into two concepts: status and agreeableness.

"Starving artists want to be comfortable and not successful."

How does this drive the behaviours? It's important to be specific, but neither a3 nor Jonathan Blow are specific -- this is not advice or analysis; it's whining.


November 05, 2021, 06:34:14 PM #10 Last Edit: November 05, 2021, 06:46:27 PM by droqen

source image for quote

QuoteThere is something much deeper happening.

As you become successful in your field (or wherever), and further internalize the habits that are necessary to be successful, it's clear that many of these things are easy to do, it's just that people don't want to do them.

The bolded statement implies that there is one set of habits that are necessary to be successful - especially the ones that are 'easy to do.' (I'd really like to hear Jonathan Blow's list of things that are 'easy to do' which people just 'don't want to do.' Are these things that he, too, does not want to do? Or does he want to do them?)

"People don't want to do them" is where I like this quote. The following line goes far astray, drawing an insane conclusion:

QuoteIn other words ... it's obvious that many people don't want to be successful

The argument, summarized:

1. There are things, habits, that are necessary to make you successful.

2. [These people] don't want to do these things, or adopt these habits.

3. Therefore [these people] don't want to be successful.


1. There are things, habits, that are necessary to make you successful.

2. [These people] don't want to do these things, or adopt these habits.

3. Therefore [these people] will not become successful by doing what they want.

The conclusion to be drawn here is not to be that these people don't want to be successful: it's that they value doing what they want over being successful. If you think you're one of these people, I'd like to interject by adding: YOU CAN VALUE BOTH. Consider that "being successful by doing what you want" is a possibility. You probably want to do a variety of things, rather than just one thing. There is no one set of habits that leads to success as if success is a binary value (YES SUCCESS / NO SUCCESS); it can be thought of as a problem of optimization. Which thing-that-you-want-to-do is the most likely to be successful? You can perhaps perform this optimization for your entire life and continue to always be doing something you want to do.

Quote[..] There's also something I haven't figured out yet. Every time I give advice, I get a number of responses from [people], explaining how this advice can't possibly apply to them because blah blah blah.
(Emphasis mine.)

These [people] say the advice can't possibly apply to them. Why? The reasons are left out. So, why does the advice apply to them? Again, this is ignored. The quote in this context is entirely devoid of an argument as to why the advice is in fact good, instead taking as axiomatic that the advice is good.

QuoteThese people build up belief structures that are obviously intended to keep them mired in their current situation

Consequence and intent are not the same. A belief structure that keeps a person mired in their current situation is not necessarily intended to do so; belief structures are not universally predicated on outcomes, though Jonathan Blow's own relationship to belief structures may in fact be that way, and/or aspire to.

Quote"Obviously" it's better not to be stuck in these belief structures, yet people will defend them vigorously, and in some cases fiercely. I don't yet fully understand why, except maybe that[..]

The fact that "Obviously" is in quotes seems to indicate some self-awareness on the part of the speaker. But the bolded part is crucial. He does not fully understand why people are defending their belief structures. He dismisses their explanations as "blah blah blah," instead supplanting his own.

End of intermission.



This is a long section and you should read it yourself, because I'm going to boil it down to a few points as I have been throughout this thread for my own purposes.

The final paragraph, the conclusion:

QuoteAny artist or gamedev that is controlled by his status drive is likely not going to produce truthful art. They will produce art that makes their status monkey happy.

What is "truthful art"? Supposing we're all human driven by a 'status monkey,' which a327ex claims earlier...

QuoteI also have a status monkey inside me that constantly wants more status and importance and attention, and I can't really turn it off. It's built-in human behavior.

... what could possibly be more "truthful" than art which comes from succumbing to this omnipresent force?

The full quote illuminates, but not much.

QuoteAny artist or gamedev that is controlled by his status drive is likely not going to produce truthful art. They will produce art that makes their status monkey happy. And while occasionally the monkey might produce something good, more often than not it will just throw shit all over the walls.

Is "truthful art" the same as "good art"? Is one a sub-group of the other? What effect, positive or negative, does the status monkey's influence have on these qualities of art?



QuoteAgreeableness is the personality trait that refers to how compassionate, caring, and overall empathetic someone is.

People who are agreeable are team players

Quoteone common mistake agreeable people make when becoming more disagreeable is incorrectly identifying people as part of their outgroup so they can avoid feeling bad about being in conflict with them

Quoteagreeables [..] don't like being in situations where they are in conflict with someone who they believe to be a part of their ingroup.

They have absolutely no problem being in conflict with those that are a part of their outgroup.

In which a3 moves from "Agreeableness" as a personality trait to "People who are agreeable" to "agreeable people" to simply referring to "agreeables."

I'm a splitter if I'm anything.


Quotesmall things don't get resolved because people want to avoid conflict, and then these small things evolve into these huge issues that eventually have to explode in one way or another.

I like this observation by a3! It's a little bit agreeableness-axis-focused, as in conceptually anchored in this one idea of agreeableness as if it's the only thing that matters (a3 later says "you can explain a lot of group behaviors with agreeableness alone," which... like... yeah, you can explain a lot of things with one concept if you're hyperfocused on it. that's kinda how explanations work. they're stories, they're focused on whatever you want them to be focused on.) but broadly speaking, I think people have a better idea of what they want, themselves, than what other people want, and problems arise when people act to minimize their own desires in favour of those they perceive on others.

QuoteAll of it completely unnecessary.

It's easy to say this kind of thing in hindsight, or as an outsider, but the fact is that processes involve failure.

QuoteBut to a disagreeable person (like me), as long you're not doing anything immoral yourself, you're not stealing from anyone and you're not buying things that are stolen, then there's no issue.

Why should a disagreeable person care about being immoral, or stealing, even? Why should an agreeable person care about buying things that are stolen, if it's from a person in their in-group, stolen from a person in their out-group? These groups are ill-defined.


November 05, 2021, 07:24:12 PM #14 Last Edit: November 05, 2021, 07:34:45 PM by droqen
a3 then starts talking about how drugs are bad.

Quoteif you're already highly open, and you have trouble finishing games, you definitely don't want to take any psychotropics because they will increase your openness levels even further which means you really won't be able to stick to anything for any reasonable period of time

This is just fearmongering and helplessness-feeding. It's through a3's blog that I first read Kazerad's Empowerment. Here's a quote from it.

Quote from: Kazerad's EmpowermentFuck that noise, is what I'm saying! If you want to help a group, take the angle that will empower them, emphasizing their innate value and what they can achieve, not the angle that will make them feel even more disadvantaged and hopeless. These are the sort of tactics that are used in wartime to make enemies surrender or desert; we should not be using them on people we want to help. We shouldn't be trusting people who use them.

a327ex is now taking the angle that will make "at least 50% of artists & gamedevs" feel even more disadvantaged and hopeless, strongly implying that their inability to "stick to anything for any reasonable period of time" is a result of past drug use. What about those who have that problem and who have not used drugs?

QuotePretty much everyone who decides to make games is higher on openness than the average person.

One way you can see this clearly is in the phenomenon of gamedevs who can never finish a game.


For highly open people, "new" is always a big motivator, and so whenever a game gets to that middle period where it's mostly a grind, "new" becomes ever more attractive and it makes people drop their games without finishing them.

So there you have it. If you're having trouble finishing games, the reason is: you're highly open. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In other words, the entirety of the explanation is that people who have trouble finishing games are the type of people who have trouble finishing games. This statement is technical truth laced with poison: a tautology which says nothing, but demotivates.

I have enjoyed some of a327ex's past blog posts, but the process of questioning this one has definitely made me feel distrustful towards them and their thoughts and arguments. It has also made me consider my own writing, and what it says and does, more carefully.

This is wartime, I suppose.