When an article becomes part of the blockchain
Perhaps you’ve heard about NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a type of asset that uses blockchain technology to verify the authenticity of a piece of digital work. So far, the hype around NFTs has focused on the art and entertainment worlds—like that collage that was sold for $69 million at a Christie’s auction—but there’s no reason the same technology can’t be used by media organizations.
Earlier this month, the Associated Press sold a piece of artwork that portrays the electoral college map as seen from space (really!) as a NFT for $180,000. Then, Quartz converted an article into an NFT and provided a step-by-step guide on how they did it. In a rather meta twist, the article they turned into an NFT is the very article with the guide. After being listed on the NFT OpenSea marketplace, the NFT article sold for $1800 (or one Ethereum) to the owner of an NFT art gallery. That amount is low compared to the prices being paid for other digital art, but it’s also more than almost anyone would pay for any single article anyway. (Proceeds will go toward the Lauren Brown Fellowship at the International Women’s Media Foundation.)
Given that the market for NFTs is driven by novelty and scarcity, putting articles on the blockchain isn’t the solution to newsroom’s funding woes, but it is an interesting blend of technology and journalism that shows how far we’ve come from the days when “product” mostly meant the New York Times cooking app.