Monkey JPG real estate
Read to the end for a very upsetting Gamecube mod
Yuga Labs Sells… Something?
People might still be buying and selling NFTs at an extraordinary rate — January was NFT marketplace OpenSea’s best month ever — but it does feel as if the initial buzz has worn off quite a bit. The NFT community seems more interested now in what comes next. Which, honestly, is a question worth asking. I spent thousands of dollars on JPGs, you might ask, now what do I do with them?
This has led to an explosion of secondary NFT applications. There are NFT clothing lines, party passes, social clubs, restaurants, video games, and, most interestingly for me, decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, which use NFTs as way of representing shares in online communities.
Up until very recently, a long with this universe of half-formed NFT innovations, there was a vague notion that somehow, some way, NFTs would help usher in the metaverse, the long-awaited next step in the internet’s evolution. Mark Zuckerberg believes in so strongly in the the imminent emergence of the metaverse that he changed his company’s name to Meta. And Crypto evangelists see themselves in a race against Zuckerberg to create the metaverse first. This isn’t because they’re ethically opposed to a corporate-owned immersive internet built with VR and AR, though they might LARP as activists on Twitter. Instead, they want to beat Zuckerberg to it because they want to be the Zuckerberg of what they’re calling Web3.
The company that has come out on top of the NFT boom is Yuga Labs. They created the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT line and this week they launched a new project called Otherside. The hype around Otherside was intense even though investors actually had no clear idea what it actually was.
Yuga Labs put out a trailer which seemed to hint at some kind of metaverse platform where your NFT could interact with other people’s NFTs. If you don’t want to watch the trailer, it basically looks like a massive multiplayer online game. And the fact that the NFTs associated with Otherside are called Otherdeeds led to intense speculation that this was some kind of metaverse real estate project like Decentraland, which is sort of like crypto Minecraft.
When Otherside launched this weekend, it set off a massive frenzy in the crypto world. Yuga Labs made $310 million on the first day. Users purchased their Otherdeeds using an altcoin called ApeCoin, which is run by a DAO of Bored Ape holders and is what Yuga Labs uses for most of their projects. ApeCoin runs on the Ethereum blockchain. Look, I’m sorry, I’m trying my best to explain all this in readable human language, but there’s only so much I can do. Basically: people bought what they thought was video game real estate deeds using a crypto coin run by a group chat of monkey JPG collectors. idk man.
The rush to buy Otherdeeds sent Ethereum gas prices soaring over the weekend. If you’ve never heard of this, Ethereum, unlike Bitcoin, has a variable transaction fee based on how active the network is. Transactions started failing amid the Otherdeed rollout and it ended up being absolute chaos, to the point that Yuga Labs had to put out a statement, saying they would refund gas fees for anyone who tried to buy an Otherdeed, was charged the gas, but didn’t get the transaction to go through. Yuga Labs also then questioned whether or not ApeCoin should continue running on the Ethereum network.
“We're sorry for turning off the lights on Ethereum for a while. It seems abundantly clear that ApeCoin will need to migrate to its own chain in order to properly scale. We'd like to encourage the DAO to start thinking in this direction,” they tweeted.
When then led to Ethereum’s creator, Vitalik Buterin, replying, saying that there’s nothing wrong with Ethereum, Yuga Labs just doesn’t understand basic economics. And a bunch of other Ethereum devs have pointed out that there were actually lots of ways Yuga Labs could have done this without insanely high gas fees and failed transactions, they just didn’t care enough to make it work right.
And then, most interestingly, ApeCoin’s market valuation tumbled over 40% in the last couple of days. According Cointelegraph, the drop is likely due to Otherside hype wearing off, even as Otherdeeds are still trending on OpenSea.
So, in the end, what were Otherdeeds? It turns out, at least for now, they’re just pictures of floating plots of land. Otherside’s website claims it’s a game that “blends mechanics from massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and Web3-enabled virtual worlds.” But that game doesn’t exist yet.
I haven’t seen anyone publicly complaining about what they bought — I assume investors are waiting to see where Otherside goes from here — but if I spent thousands of dollars on what I assumed was a some kind of video game thing that I could play with right away and, instead, ended up with a Neopets map to display my expensive JPGs in, I’d be a little miffed.
So what does this all mean? I think this whole little episode is just proof of how desperate the NFT community is for something new. Last year, the NFT craze properly kicked off following the $69 million Beeple sale, but within a few months, the buzz started to die down. There are now some genuinely big players in the space that are amassing more and more influence, but it’s still unclear what they can do with that influence. NFTs successfully broke through into mainstream culture and now true believers are racing to make sure they aren’t remembered as digital pogs, a weird cringe trend we all forget about. And that desperation to find something — anything — that NFTs are actually good for seems like it means that we’ll keep cycling through wildly inscrutable and overhyped projects where a lot of people lose a lot of money for no reason.
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Making Money From Twitter
Reuters has a new report about the possible sale of Twitter to Elon Musk. Citing confidential sources, it claims that Musk is considering some kind of licensing model for viral tweets:
Musk told the banks he also plans to develop features to grow business revenue, including new ways to make money out of tweets that contain important information or go viral, the sources said.
Ideas he brought up included charging a fee when a third-party website wants to quote or embed a tweet from verified individuals or organizations.
I don’t want to go too long on this, because, until Musk buys the site, there’s not a lot we can actually talk about it beyond hypotheticals, but this is an extremely stupid idea and, considering most tweets are just words, probably not going to happen.
But I do think it’s worth highlighting for two reasons: One, it seems extremely clear to me that Musk hasn’t put much thought into why he wants Twitter beyond the fact he’s addicted to it and it makes him feel cool. And, two, all social networks exist in direct opposition to their profitability to a degree, even Facebook. The chaotic lightning in a bottle moments that make social media worth using happen due to circumstances that make brands and corporations uncomfortable. This is why social media is fun and also why doesn’t feel like television. This inherent contradiction is especially true of Twitter, a website with a bird mascot that can also ruin your life or make you a millionaire depending on whether or not you use it very right or very wrong.
The Giant Bulge
I don’t know why this video was shared by Zhang Heqing, a counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Pakistan. I don’t know why the replies to this tweet are full of people who seem to genuinely think this is real. I also don’t know why this is so hypnotic. But it is. I have easily watched this over a dozen times. Please do yourself a favor and watch it if you haven’t yet.
This was sent to me by a reader named Adrienne. It took me a few passes to really wrap my head around what this was saying. According to the listing, “Conveyance of real estate will only be made to a purchaser of the entire NFT collection. Bidding for purchases of individual NFTs is expected to start at $100.” Which, if I understand that correctly means you have to buy an entire line of NFTs which would then make you eligible to buy the house? The Redfin page mentions a MiniUP NFT website, but doesn’t link to it and I couldn’t find it on Google. Can anyone help me understand what is happening here???
Good Bird Content
Kung Pow Penis
If you start seeing random users spelling out the phrase “kung pow penis” in the replies of tweets it’s a meme that started on Tumblr. Why? Well, it’s a little convoluted but it comes from an audio recording of a shitpost about Bernie Sanders. Then users started spamming the phrase as a way to troll people. It’s made the jump over to Twitter because Tumblr is the origin point for most internet culture now.
The big reason I’m mentioning it now is because users kung pow penis’d Elon Musk recently and, though it seems to have been deleted, according to multiple users who screenshot it, it looks as though the official verified Tumblr Twitter account added the “S” 👀
It’s All Kicking In The Coral Fandom
There’s a lot of drama in the combined worlds of the marine biology and emojis at the moment. There’s a coral emoji now (finally), but, for some reason, it wasn’t added to the animals section, it was added to the plants section. Coral is not a plant! Hopefully the International Emoji Consortium steps up and does the right thing and rectifies this error immediately.
A Good Tweet
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a very upsetting Gamecube mod.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***