The term NFT has colonized every corner of the planet in recent months. Of course, it has become the leading concept of the Blockchain ecosystem. Therefore, it is convenient to reflect on some of its meanings. Those of a cultural and economic nature. It should not be overlooked that the emergence of NFTs occurs at a time when the economy of opulence encounters major obstacles to further development: environmental, political, ideological, etc. However, each NFT, which, as such, can be the signifier of anything, appears converted into the symbol of a new economy, the economy of produced scarcity.
NFT and economics
In 1958, the economist and adviser to several American Democratic presidents, John Kenneth Galbraith, published a book called The Affluent Society. It was a reaction to the liberal/neo-liberal doctrinal push, claiming the role of the State in the configuration of a society that opened the possibility of consumption to most of its components. But the title far exceeded such intentions. He condensed the description of a civilization in which resources seemed infinite, in which, as in a kind of magical transformation, almost everything seemed free or semi-free. At least accessible in its serial and most basic versions. Even the idea of basic needs seemed to fade into the background. No one would be allowed to starve. Something inconceivable in opulence.
The Internet brought the opulence of goods to information and communication. In part, that is why it was integrated so quickly into our Western cultures, it had the culture of reception already formed. With the first web, the information became infinite. It was possible to access any information, at any time and, especially in those principles, for free. For what used to have to be paid for – the information in the newspapers, the readings of novelists, the songs of musicians or film productions – was obtained for free or almost free, either legally, illegally, or even fraudulently, as occasionally happens. with copies obtained free of charge, without permission from authors, producers, or publishers. Almost everything, as if it came from heaven.
The opulence of communication
With Web.2, what exploded was the opulence of communication. At least potentially, everyone could communicate with everyone. Here, social networks are the main protagonists of this communicative opulence.
But both the opulence of goods, as well as the opulence of information and communication, underwent developments that led them to certain paradoxes and certain limits. Among the opulence of goods, the evidence of corporate monopolization that made such almost universal access to products controlled by very few entities, with little competition. Something similar was experienced with the opulence of information and communication, leaving its management in the hands of very few technology operators, so that it became a centralized opulence, where most of the information and communication flows were practically forced to pass through relatively few necks, monopolizing the information and advertising flows themselves.
The result of this process of the economy of opulence began to show chiaroscuro and not all appeared equally as beneficiaries. Especially affected were the different direct producers, of goods (small producers and artisans of quality products), of information (newspapers), and of communication (an audience immersed in avalanches of publicity derived from each message they printed or received on their networks). . A malaise began to take shape due to the devaluation of the special, of the unique, which had no place.
Economics of scarcity production
And, above all, the limits to opulence began to be seen. The environmental limits, in the face of so much garbage and pollution derived from opulence, were seen almost from the beginning. The limits to the confidence in the messages that are received also began to be experienced. When nothing, nor any institution, already certified the information that circulated. The different media and the different sources constitute a kind of echo, of echoes, of echoes, which, perhaps, had an inscrutable origin in something that someone put on the Internet. Advertising and propaganda thus saturate the various Internet sites, leaving little room for information. Informative and communicative rubbish collapses the illusion of opulence.
As an attempt to overcome such paradoxes and limits, an economy of scarcity production begins to move with dynamic acceptance. Agricultural and livestock producers of limited production, perhaps its distribution circumscribed to a local circle, with which strategic agreements are established: local shops, local restaurants, bringing together strategic interests in pursuit of general sustainability.
The vinyl is back
For their part, the musicians distribute their works on vinyl again. Not because of some kind of vintage regression, but to generate the scarcity of his works, more difficult to copy -in pirated form- and, above all, channeled in a limited number, which makes some vinyl records reach outrageous listed prices given the crossing that occurs between supply (low) and demand (a large number of enthusiastic fans).
The former defends the scarcity and relatively high prices, based both on the quality of their products, on the less standardized processes developed, and on the lower pollution they emit, which today we translate into a carbon footprint key. Lower carbon footprint in production and distribution. Among the latter, scarcity intensifies the relationship with their followers and gives them economic sustainability, based on the calculation of the units to be sold. If the demand is much higher, it will be projected at a higher price of those units and, above all, higher expectations for the next launches.
It is in this economy of the production of scarcity that NFTs can be integrated. An economy that is established on the logic of the unique. When technically infinite copies of any good could be produced and, even more so, of any informative unit or message, they recover the aura of the work only equal to itself.
NFTs and the new economics of information scarcity production
For this reason, NFTs are called to be the lever of the new economy of scarcity production. Especially in the field of information, communication, and the entertainment and culture industry. Although not only, since it must be emphasized that any shortage of a good or service (fish that will arrive at a fish market, tickets for sporting events in great demand and a very long etcetera) can be linked to an NFT, which, in turn, binds producers and consumers in a contract with mutual rights and duties.
Through NFTs, what is emphasized is the bond. Leaving aside the amount. Take the example of the media. If the producers-advertisers establish themselves in this economy of scarcity production, they will not so much seek large numbers of audiences to reach with their messages, but rather receivers already strongly linked to the communication medium.
Beyond the audience and subscribers
A link that goes beyond audience records. Even beyond subscriber logs. It is not valid with the massive registry, but it requires the link through the scarce. Almost exclusive. Of the unique copies represented as NFT, those that differentiate the followers of a media outlet from the followers of other media outlets. Opulence is no longer in quantity. It seems to have been integrated into identity and identification.