I like to think that, as dawgs go, I’m purty smart. My grammar ain’t always spot on and my spelling can be suspect, too. But I can hold my own with any other critter without thumbs. So now that I’ve kinda demonstrated that at least I’m not a dumb dawg, I have to admit that I heard Pop talkin’ about something the other day that durn near made my brain explode.
Have you ever heard of something called a non-fungible token? Well, neither had Pop until just recently. He’ll be the first one to tell you that he probably would’ve flunked economics in college but, even so, this new thing seems like an effort on somebody’s part to confuse the heck out of most anybody. This is what he figured out.
You probably know about cryptocurrency. Far as I know it started with somebody deciding that folks wanted an alternative to cash transactions so they invented a way to use financial electronic data that they called Bitcoin. Now there ain’t no such thing as an actual bitcoin that you can hold in your hand. They don’t exist. But folks buy ‘em and invest with ‘em anyway. Sounds kinda Bernie Madoff fishy to me.
Well, like-minded folks that came up with those things must’ve figured that if investors would go for that, they’d probably go for other nonexistent means of spending their real money. That’s where these non-fungible tokens come in. Just the definition of that stuff is confusing enough. “A unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable.” What? The digital assets they’re talking about are stuff like photos, videos, and audio digital files. And here’s what’s really weird. You can buy the original but others can make an indistinguishably different copy. It’s kinda like buying braggin’ rights. Again, what? Or better yet, why?
Alright, before I get a headache trying to explain this silliness, I’m gonna go back to the economics part of this. Fungibility is “the property of a good or commodity whose individual units are essentially interchangeable and each of whose parts is indistinguishable from another part.” What I think that means is that a commodity like a gold ingot, for example, is worth the equivalent of the same weight of a gold coin. Same commodity, same weight, different form. That makes sense. If you want to buy $1,000 of gold based on weight, it doesn’t really matter what form it’s in. It’s still gold.
But for a non-fungible token, if I scribble a doodle on Pop’s computer with my dew claw and call it art, I can sell you the original for whatever you’re dumb enough to pay me (no bitcoin, please). And anybody who likes it and wants a copy can get one for free and you can’t tell the difference in a copy or the original! Believe it or not, folks have already spent millions on some of these intangible things. I’d like to know how people that are so dumb can get to be so rich. But probably not for long if that’s how they fiddle with their discretionary funds.
I don’t mean to insult any of y’all that really understand this stuff. And for all I know you may have invested in some of it yourself. I just hope that, if you did, you knew exactly what you were doing. Bless your heart.