BOFH: 'What's an NFT?' the Boss asks. In this case, 'not financially thoughtful'

Anybody in the market for one of him whimpering?


BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 15 "These NFT things," the Boss says, attempting a smooth segue from our topic to his favourite – how to make cash with no effort.

"Yes?"

"What are they exactly?"

"Non-Fungible Tokens."

"Yes, I know that, but what does it mean?"

"I think the main thing is that it's non-fungible."

"You can't funge with it," the PFY adds.

"Yes, but what does it mean?"

"It basically means something that is totally unique."

"Like one of your good ideas," the PFY adds.

"But it's not exchangeable," I chip in.

"I'm not sure I follow," the Boss says.

"When we talk about fungibility, people mostly mention things like cash. Like you could pay your subscription to Trainspotter's Weekly with a ten-quid note, but you can pay it with ANY ten-quid note. If it were a non-fungible item, it would be only ONE particular note."

"And then someone might come along and tell you it was worth 2000 quid because it was the only note that you used to pay that bill."

"I …"

"So let's use the PFY's example of your good idea," I say. "If someone were collecting your good ideas – obviously they'd be next to worthless …"

"… like the ideas themselves," the PFY adds.

"However, if TWO people were collecting your good ideas then each good idea would have some value, which would be negotiated by what those two people were willing to pay. Now, while one of your good ideas is rare enough anyway, it's also effectively non-fungible because you can't just swap it for another idea. So you could create an NFT of one of your good ideas – then it would still be worth next to nothing BUT you have effectively rubber-stamped it as a digital asset."

"So the buyer would own my idea?"

"Maybe. Maybe they'd own the idea, maybe they'd own the token. Or maybe they'd own both – it's up to you what you're selling."

"I don't understand how this works."

"OK, so an NFT is either something that HAS value. Maybe a software licence for instance – completely unique and issued as such. Or it's something that someone TELLS you has value, but doesn't – like an SCO licence. But there's always some cretin in the background thinking they can make a pile of cash for it and insisting that you could too."

"For instance," the PFY says, "you could just pile a bunch of cash up and burn it, take a photo of the ash and create an NFT of that image, and sell that for more than the original money was worth."

"Would that work?"

"Probably."

"How much money do you think you'd need to burn?"

"You'd probably need to burn a significant amount for it to have a significant value. I mean anyone could burn 50 quid, and if it didn't sell as an NFT it wouldn't be a huge loss. To be worth big money though, you'd probably need to be the first person to do it – because copies are never worth as much as the original. The first one would always be the first, and as such would have a higher value than the rest."

"So what, 1000 quid?" he gasps.

"At the very least. I mean if you were a professional artist it would probably be 10,000 quid or more – because it's the first, a big statement and all that."

"So a couple of thousand for a non-artist?"

"Probably."

"How would someone know that it was really 2000 quid and not just some newspaper?"

"I guess you'd need to take photos along the way as it burns."

"Could each image be an NFT?"

"YES THEY COULD!" the PFY says. "And there's a good idea you can sell as well!"

"Which image would be worth the most?"

"That's hard to say because I think the market would decide – by which time you may have already sold the NFT that goes on to be the most valuable."

"So how do people know?"

"They don't. So you sell your ash picture to A for 2500 quid, they sell it to B for 5000 quid a few weeks later and in two years' time B sells it to C for 147,000 quid."

"Really?"

"Unless the arse falls out of the market when B realises they paid 5000 quid for a photo of ash that no one gives a shit about. But hey – that's not your problem because you already made your money."

"So what's the best option?"

"If it were me, I'd sell the intermediate burning image NFTs first and then sell the ash picture last – to build up interest. And, of course, value."

"So you're ready?" the Boss asks nervously, as he pours lighter fluid on a pile of crumpled Turings.

"Yep!" the PFY says, holding up the camera – as the Boss wants to be in the photo for provenance reasons.

"OK, GO!" the Boss says, lighting the cash and stepping back.

>click< >click< >click< >click<

"How was that?" the Boss asks, peering over the PFY's shoulder at the camera screen.

"Artistically it was amazing!!!" the PFY says.

"Let's have a look then."

"Oh, well, that's the thing. Artistically it was amazing. Digitally, it would have been a lot better if the card hadn't got corrupted. But on the bright side you've still got that wadge of gluey plastic which we can take a photo of with a new card …"

"Unless the new card is funged as well …" I add. "Hey! Maybe I could tape your whimpering and we could make an NFT out of that!!!" ®

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