In this entry, https://futureland.tv/vin/entry/116801, @christian, shared some really interesting feedback / insights / wonderings about what ownership might or might not be, how ownership manifests in the digital world, and how that might be different than ownership in the physical world. I got a similar set of notes from one of my best friends @marco, who is an artist and filmmaker. Essentially I am finding that there’s the story of what an NFT is, unique data that cannot be copied, and is owned by users, but there’s also the deeper story of what ownership even is, why it has mattered in the past, and how it might matter or not matter in the digital world.
Here’s some excerpts from @christian’s notes:
I’m still not 100% sure how ownership as mentioned here meshes with our intuitive understanding of ownership. In the intuitive sense, I might make a
.txt file that sits on my desktop and I own it. I own the physical hardware, I made the data, it’s mine. That’s very clear.
This a very interesting note he’s bringing up. He’s basically saying, when digital files are local, it feels like we own them. We can create local files on a computer that only ever stay on that computer, we can put them wherever we want on that computer, and if we password protect the hardware no one can ever access those files. Those files are ours, because we are the only ones who can control when they are copied or deleted, and also who can see them.
He then dives into the feeling of ownership when downloading files from the Internet,
Both I and the people that download it feel they own the file because it is on their local computer. If it’s own a shared server somewhere, I don’t feel as strongly that I own it, for example, I don’t feel like I own a Spotify playlist but I do feel like I own a folder of mp3s.
Again, he’s sharing that when files are local, it feels more like we own them. Even if they were downloaded from the Internet, once they are on our local machines, they are ours. We can control where they go, we can rename them, delete them, copy them, overwrite them. That’s what ownership feels like to him in the current digital world, ownership feel like media that exists on his local computer.
In a way, and in my understanding, he then raises the question, how else could ownership feel in the digital world? and what might that mean?:
So what does ownership mean when applied to NFTs? It seems like it’s something more to do with a social version of ownership. Of all the things floating around the Internet, here is a way to say, “that is my thing”. In this case “my thing” isn’t the sort of ownership I described above, it’s a more social form.
I agree with his sentiment here that this form of NFT ownership is different than local media ownership, but I think, based on my current understanding, suggesting that it is only a social signal, massively narrows the functional potential of what an NFT is. Hm, but maybe it is a social signal, and I’m narrowing the functional potential of what a social signal is.
As far as I understand, an NFT is unique data that is attributed to a user, cannot be copied, and is recognized network wide. From what I understand what this allows for is a degree of interoperability that is far beyond anything that can be done in web2. For example, someone could be creating a set of tools to tackle a specific climate related problem, and they may initially only want to open up access to a specific set of like minded users, the project leaders could do this by checking if a user has a specific NFT before providing access to the tool, assuming having that NFT would mean they are the kind of person who should have early access to the tool.
This of course also applies to currencies, specific communities might adopt the currency of another community, because they know the kinds of people they want to collaborate with would already have a lot of that currency.