Thoughts on the Metaverse NFT Space and other ethereal things.

First of all – I’ve put together a couple of online galleries in the metaverse that showcase the work I’ve been doing the past couple of months:

This is the best of the art that I’ve created since coming into the NFTverse
https://oncyber.io/vagobond

This is the collective work of the Bald Jesus Collective which I’m proud to have built, regardless of what the end results are
https://oncyber.io/baldjesus

This is the cautionary gallery of largely worthless NFT animal avatars I’ve purchased in these past months – also a couple of Crypto Kitties that go back to 2017 when the modern crypto ecosystem really took off.
https://oncyber.io/nftjunkyardcats

I’ve said it before, I’m in love with the potential and the community that has grown up around NFTs on the blockchain. There are however, problems. Not the least of the issues is the insane amount of money that this space is generating and the types of people that brings into the space.

The metaverse is an NFT space or will be so I might as well start calling it the Metaverse – but I’m hesitant so let’s say

  • NFTverse for the NFT centric internet
  • Cryptoverse for the more coin/token/finance
  • Metaverse is more the online world ecosystem including things like Roblox, Decentraland, and even  the online NFT gallery space.

In any event, the NFTverse is the most fascinating place I know of right now. Art, technology, community, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, game theory, and scamming have all collided. I’m fortunate to be in it as early as I am and it’s been strange to watch the migration of new groups into it over the last six months – at first, we were artists, crypto-geeks, and cypherpunks, geeks, nerds, and countercultural types trying to learn how to survive and collaborate in a post-covid society. Then the money started flowing with Bored Ape Yacht Club and the Crypto Punks and Beeple – that’s when it started changing.

In a way, it was a huge process of gentrification. When I worked as a community organizer in Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland’s lower income neighborhoods – I developed a theory of gentrification that I think stands pretty good to the test of time. It’s not entirely PC but it works – here is the cycle of gentrification in low income neighborhoods.

  1. Rents are low. Policing is low. Residents are those who have stayed while things have gotten worse or those who simply can’t afford to live anywhere else. Large numbers of scumbag landlords who exploit and abuse tenants for as much as they can.
  2. Artists, musicians, and counterculture types who can’t afford to live elsewhere begin to populate the neighborhood. Low rent and dangerous conditions provide opportunity to express art without having to have the soul sucked out of you.
  3. Hangouts with some cool cachet begin to appear – coffee shops, dive bars, restaurants from those who can’t afford to start in a better place. The artists and musicians energy is absorbed into and creates these spaces. Other businesses might follow.
  4. I call this the Lesbian Vanguard. Lesbians seem to be the next catalyst that accelerates the gentrification process. Lesbian couples begin moving in, lesbian businesses open. A softer edge is added to the crustiness that existed before.
  5. The Gay migration begins. Male/male couples traditionally are more affluent and when they follow the Lesbian Vanguard into neighborhoods the property values begin to rise. Also, there starts to be a more focused approach to business and dominator capitalism.
  6. Young hip professionals follow. First time home buyers, young childless couples. Predatory lending starts ramping up and developers begin buying property for future development. Policing goes into overdrive.
  7. Rents go up as property values go up. Families that survived the neighborhood in decline now are either legally scammed out of their property or sell before the values begin to skyrocket. Artists and musicians and counterculture types who have not successfully rode the wave of capital are forced to find the next cheap neighborhood to move to – eventually.
  8. Development kicks into overdrive with luxury condos, remodeled single family homes, and businesses like Starbucks and Whole Foods moving in and driving out locally owned business.

 

The process in the metaverse is eerily similar:

  1. Empty space largely unused and mostly free for those who are early. No monetary utility.
  2. Artist, musicians, counterculture.
  3. People start making money. Bankers, finance, and scammers enter the space.
  4. LGBTQ, minority voices, early innovators
  5. Fashion, streetwear, influencers. Projects backed by bigger teams and more money.
  6. Brands that appeal to young people. Rug pulls. Lots of people enter the space hoping to get life changing money.
  7. Organized process of separating small holders from their holdings with hype, pump and dumps, celebrity cash grabs, influencers
  8. Multi-million dollar developments and platforms begin to claim the lions share of profits with one or two early businesses rise to large status while the rest slowly are eaten or fail into obscurity.

 

And this brings me to these random thoughts:

Jesus it’s hard to get any interest or traction in this space. The other thing that’s really hard is that while there are a lot of really great people in the nft-verse, there are also a lot of money hungry sociopaths who will gladly take the last twenty-five cents out of a beggars bowl and laugh about it. Because it is the internet – it’s really hard to tell the difference until you’ve either been helped or been robbed. Even in the pay to play groups there are plenty of predators waiting to take advantage of you – but like my Dad told me – it takes two to make a thief – one to create the opportunity and the other to take it – so buyer beware in this wild west world.
As with writing and tech – I waiver between – what I’m offering isn’t any good and I”m not offering what I have that is really good to the people who can recognize it or need/want it – and I don’t know how to reach them. Sometimes, as with all the drops that malfunction, the floor model after floor model in reveals – it just feels like bad luck. I don’t know.
I’m pretty naive, I always have been. My initial assumption is always that people will not only look out for each other but actually not put themselves first. Sadly this assumption is proven wrong almost daily. Especially in new and lucrative spaces like nft-land. Just because you share an avatar family with someone doesn’t mean they won’t rip you off no matter how much you wish it were so. It doesn’t mean that the incredibly wealthy in this space won’t grind and hustle and manipulate to take all they can from the poor in this space, just like what happens in the world outside. The past few days, I’ve watched the naive and gullible and poor be manipulated into loss by the wealthy, the connected, and the ruthless – on a massive scale. I fell prey to it.
Bottom line, the NFT world is not the world it was six months ago when I entered it – when it was artists and geeks and misfits. WE are still here, but now we are joined by shysters, sociopaths, bankers, financiers, and stonk brokers with no moral code but more more more. It’s far more dangerous now than it was before. I feel like the only way to truly survive in this current and future world is to either get lucky or to join forces with people who have your back – that’s the hard part – figuring out who has your back versus who is going to sell you down the river to the highest bidder.
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