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The Furry Fandom, artist culture, and the dangers of Non-Fungible Tokens

Edited by Sonious as of 21:25
Your rating: None Average: 4 (9 votes)

NotAnNFT.jpgEditor's Note: This article was also published in DogPatchPress and was dual submitted by the original author. In discussion with DogPatch, it was decided to follow the author's wish to post this piece to both sites, but editing credits go to Patch from DogPatchPress. If you read it there, it is the same here, minus these respective editor notes. Furry opinions are, apparently, quite fungible.

Cryptocurrency isn’t a new thing to a lot of people. Most safely assume that it’s a common matter to discuss by now. From one trend to another, it seems like the over-publicized success stories, scam emails, and ads that badger you to invest or download this or that app never stop coming. Yet while furries are notoriously well versed in technology, for most of us, it’s just background noise. Spam, business con tactics, and maybe hearsay from the friend of a friend who invested; it all sounds almost good enough to break through our skepticism… but not quite.

However, early in 2021, things suddenly changed. A digital work from Mike Winkelmann (AKA Beeple), entitled ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’, sold for $69.3 million USD. It was entirely unexpected for most of the online community, and the term NFT exploded like crypto did before it.

Though the concept was born in May of 2014, and many other high-profile exchanges had been made earlier, this sale made a tidal wave and a new landscape. Non-Fungible Token means a piece of content, be it an image, sound, or any other digital file, attached to a certificate labelling it as the ‘one and only true original’ proven by a blockchain address. Each individual certificate of absolute ownership is collectable, tradable, and beyond all exclusive – a factor that seemed to draw in many. ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ made it a currency of its own.

Once merely for investors and stock players, Bitcoin miners and the financially gifted, the trading now broke out into the world of small content creators. A space where there’s no more quirky and unique a breed than furries, and their infinite array of creativity and oddball ingenuity – qualities made saturated, stylized and enigmatic through NFTs. Soon artists and creators both within the fandom and without were bombarded by requests, demands, and processes relating to NFT marketplaces, whether understood or not. Communities across the internet pivoted all too slowly to adapt.

While the hype was insurmountable – drawing target groups worldwide who had never been interested in cryptocurrency to suddenly invest – there was more to it than the surface craze and annoyance. Something that no-one had seen at first. Something insidiously unhealthy, that has grown worse and worse in the months since.

We think NFTs are dangerous to the Furry Fandom, and here’s why.

To fully understand why many people see NFTs as a risk to both the environment and creative culture, we should explore exactly what impacts they report. For research, we have both passively and actively observed fandom insiders and outsiders, to see the community as a whole. We learned general consensus of those affected, and patterns in that information. The most common complaint of those affected by the NFT trend is without a doubt theft. Artists keep finding their works for sale on NFT marketplaces without their knowledge or consent. These sites are notoriously less than vigilant or helpful for removing discovered thefts.

Art theft and copyright infringement was a massive problem since long before the first online file sharing. An amazing array of traced ‘original art’, bootleg albums, and rip-offs of your favorite children’s show are made every day. Yet, in the furry fandom, the motivation for stealing someone’s art is at least somewhat small-minded and limited, though widely practiced. You mostly have to want to be known as an artist to steal art and claim it’s yours. However, with the advent of NFTs, now there’s big money to gain. Sure, some art thieves in the past have altered other artists’ work to scam commissioners, but rarely was there opportunity for such clean and relatively risk-free fraud. The odds are that the average artist won’t know if one of their pieces is quietly made into an NFT and sold. That’s exactly the point for many people entering this market.

Next, the theft continues from the earth itself. The environmental issues of cryptocurrency have long been questionable. Wikipedia compares the carbon footprint of a single NFT purchase to an additional passenger on a commercial flight, and the New York Times states that a single Bitcoin transaction uses the energy of an average American household in six weeks. In September this year it was estimated that 0.5% of all energy used worldwide is for Bitcoin alone — more than many whole countries — and almost more than half of all other data processes globally, as stated by DigiEconomist founder Alex de Vries. Given this environmental cost, it’s also troubling to know cryptocurrency’s fragile financial status for its investors. As an economic straw man, crypto works purely on the ebb and flow of exchange and stock value. In other words, if there was no supply, there would be no demand, unlike in classic economics, where demand is met and balanced with supply foremost to make profit.

Lastly, among things vulnerable to battering by surging popularity, we have culture. The furry fandom is a unique space, built over decades, and formed around a concept rather than an existing set of work. The stories, lives, creations, and artistic energy of members is the sole thing that defines it as a community. Independent and freelance creators seek their living from the exchange of art and content. It’s a shaky business at most for the best of them. Introducing depersonalized, commercial bias into a space based on personalization — such as wanting to see your characters come alive for emotional investment rather than profit — discourages creators and influencers. They’re bitter at how it may affect their incomes, and damage the community around them.

Outcry on social media has risen from artists urging fans to fight harassment from shills. They fear the market being saturated by soulless token trades, and drowning out the healthy sharing of unique stories, characters, and creativity. It could seem disheartening that genuine care might turn to greed, and kill the joy that a commission brings to both recipient and creator.

Others promote the NFT market and its opportunities for trading and stock, but for quick personal wealth or collecting for hope of a future payout, rather than a living and breathing community. We already have the cryptocurrency trend in the fandom’s already precarious place for its artists, their income and business. Do we need another one?

The answer, which may come with the age-old balance between wealth or happiness, is, as always, up to you, but for many furries it is no. And, in good conscience for the spaces and people we love, we at Doppelfoxx are definitely among them.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Only thing I would add here is that I believe that the purpose of NFTs was to get people interested in Crypto. It solves no function in anything except for faux wealth and clout chasing.

Similar to how Tesla went for the sport car for their EVs first to bring in a niche but wealthy audience to subsidize their more mass-produced ventures. I would suspect that the first expensive NFT was probably bought by someone who has a high vested interest in the current crypto culture. Then the news follows the money, and people in their FOMO jump on board and start translating their dollars into these psudo-currencies (which behave more like an equity in stability).

So the NFTs are in service to these cryptos, and mostly because cryptos failed for the most part to be able to be the foundations for non-digital goods as was their dream.

When Bitcoin was but a blip on most radars I did hear whispers about BitCoin on convention floors the main things I remember was that it was looking to be a governmentless currency, that it was looking to be used highly amongst the masses.

But what people don't realize is that, currency isn't meant to be hoarded. It's supposed to be used to exchange for the effort it takes to do things in our real world. If you're supposed to hold it for multiple years while it goes to the moon, it creates a hoarding culture.

Currently, all I'm seeing are cyrpto-equities, I have yet to see an honest to god cryto that would be a good stable currency. You would have to design it with that in mind.

More recently I've heard that cryptos are supposed to be a 'hedge against inflation'. While currently its growth is beating inflation, there are some times when it goes down in value faster than inflations is taking value from the dollar. So that is not yet provable, and cannot be correlated.

So to create an actual currency that isn't just horded by the rich wishing for governments to collapse so they can be king, you need to go into creating the digital asset with the tune of making a currency. This means, no you won't get rich making it or pulling in suckers.

Below is just very rough thoughts on making something like that happen, but is just a very paper napkin thought experiment:

Instead of increasingly mining for scarcity, you instead would have something that would 'split' and 'reverse-split' on a regular basis to retain the value of 1 Digital Asset = 1 Currency Asset, and you would maintain that threshold.

If you wanted to hedge against inflation (for realsies) you could adjust the currency asset with inflation.

For instance I make a product called HedgeCoin in 1990 and make it so 1 HedgeCoin = $100 US (1990)

That means that through 'splits' and 'reverse splits', and adjusting the 'split threshold' with inflation today 1 HedgeCoin would be worth $212.66 (2021)

This should be true no matter how much equity was put into the HedgeCoin, so basically instead of adjusting the chart to make it go 'to the moon' exponentially, you would instead have a flat value, what would change, through the splits and reverse-splits, would be the number of HedgeCoins a person holds.

The idea would be to be a store of value rather then a race to be the first one in and not be left holding the bag. Currencies don't work well that way.

This way people are not trying to mine our planet to death.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Dual submitted, not "duel."

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

That was either a typo (fixed this, thanks)...

Or...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipsPgNEmAXI&t=7s

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

I prefer lo-fi analog art but Blockchain tech has interesting use in theory. (Very non techie here.)

Most people would have been familiar with peer-to-peer file sharing and it's impact on copyrighted media. Copyright owners were able to sue central server hosts to death for hosting the traffic (like napster).

Next evolution: distributing the traffic so there was no central server, with Bittorrent. There's indexers (like Piratebay) to connect, but the traffic goes between peers, so the corps have to go after the individuals.

Next evolution: encryption so things are decoded on the ends but not during the traffic, so there's nothing to go after, in theory. Of course there's other ways to intercept it like control of device or network.

Now, blockchain I believe distributes copies of the entire ledger of actions to each user, and no user can act without authentication by all the others. Plus what you put in, goes one way and can not be falsified. Like a math based trust box.

Instead of just downloading things that way, imagine a group collaborating to create that way. With stakes and no taking things out of the trust box. Sure you can do it directly (sounds like furry fandom!) -- but look at how well built, secure, up to date, easily funded, and reliably staffed Furaffinity is. Fandom is good for cottage industry but maybe not so good with bigger projects.

I guess... NFT is supposed to help make a new medium for that. Sounds neat, in science fiction. I have not read up on that and of course it gets screwed up by the energy use, volatility and more. I'd rather make paper zines.

There's a really good few episodes about crypto from Behind the Bastards. https://www.iheart.com/podcast/105-behind-the-bastards-29236323/episode/part-one...

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (5 votes)

NFTs are an absolutely stupid concept that we should abandon but this article includes a fair bit of exaggerated fear mongering.

Minting NFTs is not art theft. Similarly, despite a widespread use of "theft" as a scare term, copying, tracing or reposting art is also not theft. There is a sense where we can say that someone "stole" a piece of art by tracing or reposting it but this is different from theft where the item has been taken away. If you steal a physical painting, you deprive the owner of that painting. If you copy or trace digital art, the owner still has the art. You have made a copy. That does not mean those things are necessarily ethical but, if someone is not acknowledging the original source of the artwork, that is plagiarism, not theft. Copying, tracing and sharing with appropriate attribution is something that we should be encouraging for the benefit of everyone.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Copying_Is_Not_Theft.webm

NFTs are not a threat the furry fandom or culture. There are many unsavoury aspects to NFTs but NFTs exist separately from the art. It's entirely possible to completely ignore NFTs and continue as normal. The existence of NFTs does not prevent artists taking commissions and posting art. Nor do NFTs prevent viewing art, commissioning art, sharing art or anything like that. People should not be minting NFTs and profiting off art that is not theirs but even if they did, it wouldn't change a thing.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

Except if an artist decides that because of others profiteering off their work they won't share it publicly to advert the risk. The everyone loses out on something that would have gone to the community.

The DogPatch version of this article had one such screenshot from a talented DeviantArt artist who basically indicated they were considering to not post work onto the site due seeing their work end up on NFTs.

Of course this was an issue before NFTs, for example, T-Shirts.

But at least in this case, unlike the T-Shirt NFTs are being pumped up by scam artists to sell to suckers at a premium. So the one buying stolen art is also getting stolen from. Really just a spit roast transaction having people screwed at both ends all around.

At least those buying the T-Shirts with stolen art... get a t-shirt.

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

Like you say, others profiting off art that is not theirs has always been a risk; NFTs do not present a new risk, just a different form of an old risk. Perhaps it's a bit easier to pull off because the stupid obsession with NFTs means you don't need any physical product or to create a demand.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

Right up until it gets seized off their back for violating the artist's copyright.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

On one hand when I heard about t the astronomical price of NFT the first thing that pops into my mind is tulips, baseball cards, comic book and Beanie Babies. NFT seem to my show the underlying problem may my more libertarian friends miss is there no underlying value of crypto currency except to exchange it for fiat currency, the same fiat currency crypto currency is supposed alternative to. At least when the bubble pops, there will not be plies of beanie babies out at a garage sale.

If there any harm it will be art theft and a general nuisance as some furs think NFT will are the quick buck ticket to Anthrocon or a fursuit.

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About the author

Doppelfoxxread storiescontact (login required)

a freelancer and Fox from Hannover, Germany, interested in philantrophy, art, and most of all writing

Established 2020, Doppelfoxx is a label between authors and artists Gabriel Foxx and Jakkie Fox focused on bringing life, creativity, and community to online spaces, and helping spread unique content to world - be it our own, or that of others. If you're interested in working with us for marketing, commissioning us for writing or art, joining one of our gaming teams, or answering our interview questions, we'd love to have your contact on doppelfoxx@gmail.com, so don't hesitate to say hi!