Newsletter - March 2021

NFTs, TikTok and more

Hi there, and welcome to the second edition of Meta - an exploration of creativity.

Lots happening this month in creativity. You might have seen a lot of fuss about NFTs - Non Fungible Tokens. I’ve included some further reading below, but one of the core ideas behind NFTs is that scarcity is integral to the value of art. The internet made art abundant and thus reduced the value of it. When songs became digital files, their value was reduced thanks in part to free and limitless distribution through the internet (i.e. Napster). The very real effect of this was a 50%+ decline in record sales over a ten year period. Non Fungible Tokens solve the problem of scarcity on the internet.

An NFT is a token that is one of a kind and can not be replicated. You can attach one of these tokens to a piece of art, proving that art is one of a kind. NFTs can be used for GIFs, songs, videos, trading cards, virtual real estate… if you can name it, it can be “minted”. Digital and physical goods can be minted, but right now, a lot of the heat is about digital art.

This provokes some questions: is art’s true value directly proportional to its scarcity? Can art’s meaning be fully captured in its market value? What value does a song have if it is accessible by anyone with an internet connection? How do you account for the cultural or emotional value of creative work? Another interesting question - are digital works no different from physical works when it comes to value? Maybe not yet, but possibly soon: Nyan Cat sold for roughly USD 600,000. Picasso's 'Women of Algiers' sold for $179.4 million. Crazy times! Let me know what you think!

Provocation: TikTok is the biggest driving force behind creativity in the world

We musicians all stand on the shoulders of each other, our pirate pockets rattling with booty, our heads exploding with repurposed ideas. - Nick Cave.

No single medium, platform or movement is doing more to develop creativity than TikTok. It is not a social network like Instagram or Facebook. It’s a platform and set of tools for creativity. The mechanics, the barriers to entry and the intrinsic motivations for participation all hinge on a user developing their creativity. And what’s more, as Eugene points out in the article I link to below, TikTok’s network effect is centred around creativity. Every additional user on TikTok makes every other user more creative.

Last month’s provocation:  Creativity is the meta-skill.


That’s all for this month. If you liked this, please share it with a friend or on socials. See you next time!

Joel Connolly
Blackbird Creative Director
Head of Blackbird Foundation