INTRODUCTION Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are a digital version of something everyone understands in analog. If an artist paints you a picture, and gives it to you – no one else can have that painting. It is yours. It is one of a kind. Someone could copy it, a magnificent forger could make a nearly exact replica, even going so far as to use the exact same paint, the same material for canvas from the same maker of the canvas, employ the exact same style, but the original painting would still be the original. One might even say even if you copied the painting atom for atom, the original would still be different from the atomic duplicate. It would be unique in time (it came first), and more esoterically, it would simply be different, even if the atomic configuration were the same in the forgery, it still would not be the original painting.
Now let’s say that your father had a friend who was named Pablo Picasso and Picasso gave your father a painting. You inherited that painting and are now ready to sell it. You want to be able to prove it is an original. So how would you do that? You may have a picture of your father and Picasso and the painting. There could be paperwork, Picasso could have told someone else in a letter he gave it to your father, an art expert could verify it is an original Picasso, etc. In other words, there are various ways to prove that a painting is not a forgery. (Paintings that are thought to be forgeries can lose value instantly, and can be a major chagrin for auction houses).
So, the questions arises: how would we in the digital world make an original artwork? (A digital piece of work could be an mp3, an mp4, a gif, a jpeg, a png, etc.). After all, a forgery in the digital world is as simple as a screenshot or downloading a file – we don’t need years of practice as an artist to make a “forgery” of a digital piece of artwork.How on earth would make a digital piece of artwork unique? Enter the blockchain and NFTs.
THE BLOCKCHAIN Using blockchain technology one can make a unique digital piece of work. Let’s stick with digital art, let’s say it is a jpg. An artist could make a digital jpeg of an Owl Reading a Book. They could then make it totally unique with the blockchain, that is, a unique hash attached to that piece and that piece alone. A hash, in simple terms, means taking any input (a song, an image, etc.) and condensing it down to a single line of code. These hashes only go one way, and no image would give you the exact same hash. They are what is called “collision resistant,” that is, you won’t have a picture of a dog and a picture of a cat create the same hash, two hashes are highly unlikely to collide – it’s astronomically unlikely. In fact, if you alter even one pixel in a jpeg, the entire hash is completely different.
So if the artist were to give his or her digital painting of an Owl Reading a Book a hash, that hash would be totally unique. Now, when that hash is in the blockchain, the blockchain would also have a time stamp, so you would have a totally unique piece that was the first to exist – this is immutable, the chain is a time append only chain. That digital painting of an Owl Reading a Book, is now the first and only original. To keep it simple: the NFT has a unique hash at a unique time and that can never be duplicated. Even though anyone could simply screenshot of an image of it, they would not have an original. Again, even if it was an exact copy digitally, just as that painting by Picasso could be atomically duplicated, the original is the original – it is so in time and in “spirit.” The artist or creator has made, and has “signed” it with the hash, so to speak, at a specific time. In that sense, it is the first and only piece. (Note: there could also be “prints” or a series of 10 or 100 or whatever of a digital artwork, but the same principles apply. If an artist issued 100 images of his work, one of them would be the first image, that is, 1 of 100, and the second image would be 2 of 100 and onward to 100 of 100. The first print would be slightly earlier in time than the second print, and so on. But there would only be 100 official digital prints issued by the artist. More on this later). Once more, even though you could screenshot the digital painting of an Owl Reading a Book, the image would be unique because of the code. The Non-fungible in Non-fungible Token means that your image cannot be exchanged for another copy, it is unique in all of existence.
THE NFT MARKET The NFT market has exploded recently – with pieces selling in the tens of millions of dollars. Artists, athletes, musicians, actors, and even CEOs and their “tweets” have been in the game. NFTs are easy to make and publish. There is a small fee that is needed to post an NFT on marketplaces (paid in cryptocurrency, naturally), and major galleries and labels along with emerging artists and musicians are creating them.
WHAT ARE CORRUPTIBLE NFTs and “CREASE”? So you can take a digital piece of artwork and make it unique, that is what NFTs do. The same way you could own a Picasso, you can now own a jpg by Beeple (REF) – it’s yours and it’s unique even if others have a copy of it or a screenshot of it. You have the original created by the artist, and you have the first one created by the artist – it is time stamped. (Indeed, NFTs also create ironclad “ownership.”)
But what is one thing that NFTs are missing. NFTs cannot be corrupted, cannot be damaged, cannot lose value because a drainage pipe leaked on it, or one’s grandkids knocked it off the wall. But what if NFTs could be damaged? What if you had to “care” for your NFT the way that someone who owns artwork or a sports card or a sports car or anything collectible has to care for their items.
For instance, if you owned a Michael Jordan rookie card, you would have to put in a very good plastic case, keep it out of sunlight to avoid UV damage, avoid moisture, have it is a fireproof safe, have it insured, you’d have to make sure people don’t touch it and expose it to the oils which are human hands, you’d have to make sure certain it didn’t get water damaged, and also make sure it did not get bent or creased. If any of that were to happen, well your Michael Jordan rookie card would lose an immense amount of value. If you didn’t take care of it your art, it would likely depreciate – rapidly. (There are cases were a damaged piece, because of the damage, actually increase the value of a piece of art too – but those are exceptions to the rule).
With that said, I propose the idea of corruptible NFTs, NFTs that can be corrupted if they are not cared for. The system we will use is called “Crease.” Crease is a system that brings the “corruptibility” factor into NFTs, your digital artwork or digital sports card or digital song can become corrupted if you do not care for it. It thus requires owners to care for their NFTs as they would physical tangible items or they become degraded. Negligent ownership would potentially hurt the value of the NFT. The following will explain more in detail.
PROOF OF CARE (PoC) and YOUR cNFT (AN EXAMPLE) One way an owner of a cNFT (Corruptible NFT) would have to “care” for their cNFT would be that each week they would have to send the piece to a new wallet. (A crypto wallet “allows you to store your private keys, keeping your crypto safe and accessible. They also allow you to send, receive, and spend cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.” (REF) It would also allow to send your NFTs from one account to another). Thus, the system I am proposing, Crease, would track the piece and keep a percentage of the “condition” of the NFT on a public ledger or database. Thus, each week, or month, or whatever the cNFT contract stipulated to show Proof of Care, the Condition of the cNFT would be updated. I call the “work” that must be done Difficulty of Care, DoC. DoC could be from severe to casual, the owner would have to send their NFT to a new wallet on a daily or weekly or yearly basis. If it was yearly, then the DoC would be low; if it were daily the DoC would be high. This “proof of care” would have to be done manually by the owner, or it could be hired out. The PoC should never be able to be automated, it should require real human time and physical effort. (Perhaps even going so far as to video the process and upload the video). Should an owner “miss” a transfer, the NFT would be downgraded from “mint.”
Let’s have an example: I have an NFT from the show Seinfeld. It’s a clip of Kramer saying “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” It’s a gif. It was created by Jerry Seinfeld. I buy it and now I own that gif, it is 1 of 1. It is on the blockchain – it hashed and time stamped, it is mine, it is in my crypto wallet.
Now, PoC and DoC can be set in one of a few ways: A creator of the NFT can set it if he/she wishes to. A creator, in this case Jerry Seinfeld, could say, “If you buy this NFT, then I expect you to prove your care for it once a month.” That PoC terms and the DoC could be set by the creator. Before you, me, or anyone buys the piece we would agree to the terms. So if the DoC is set to once a month, then once a month, the NFT of “These pretzels are making me thirsty” gif has to be transferred from one wallet to another. Crease would track whether or not these transfers were taking place and keep track of the “condition” of the NFT. If the NFT never missed a transfer, the mint would be 100% (or perhaps a 1 to 10 scale). But if the owner of the “These pretzels are making me thirsty” gif missed a PoC transfer, the NFT might be downgraded to 99% mint condition.
Another option for PoC and DoC is if the purchaser of the NFT wishes to convert it to a cNFT. If a purchaser buys the NFT of “These pretzels are making me thirsty” then he/she could elect to make it a cNFT and thus enable PoC. He/she could also set the DoC level.
TYPES OF PROOF OF CARE
The idea to send from one wallet to another is just one type of PoC. There are several other ways to create PoC, and those options will eventually be available. An example of this might be (and this is more passive and doesn’t require human effort), is that a certain amount of Crease coins will be paid out each year, or month, day. This would be, in effect, saying, “I believe in this NFT so much, I will be pay to maintain it with my own coins.” For example of someone buys a cNFT and says, each week I will pay .1 crease coins to keep it in pristine condition. Other examples we are working on will be noted shortly. All these options will be available for the creators and/or for the buyers.
COMPETITION AMONG NFT “PRINTS” A creator that issued prints would thus give “later” edition prints a chance to be worth more than the original print. If print 1 of 20 is not maintained via PoCs, then perhaps, print 5 of 20, which was maintained, could surpass it in value.
ACTUAL DAMAGE TO THE cNFT
So this is what is most interesting. If an owner does not maintain his/her PoC, the actual NFT will be damaged. The damage will be random destruction of pixels in all images. (Damage to music and video will come later). So if you do not maintain your PoC, CREASE essentially burns the original NFT – it is gone forever. A new NFT of the original is created, this time with damage to the NFT. Thus, if an NFT under PoC is not maintained, eventually the entire image could be lost.
CREASE WOULD INCREASE VALUE The value of a NFT could increase substantially if the NFT was maintained over time. Imagine, an image/song/card that has been doing a weekly or daily PoC for 10 years, the amount of human energy and effort (or money, etc.) that went into that NFT would add value to the NFT. It is the same as finding an old car from the 1920s that is in mint condition, that has been maintained, and so forth. It is makes an item even rarer. It could be especially useful for emerging artists. Human energy that goes into an unknown artist could increase the perceived value of the piece and the artist.
CREASE SOFTWARE The monitoring of the cNFT would be on chain, the PoC transfers to new wallets for the cNFT would take place on chain, but it is possible the data presentation of each cNFT could be shown offchain (that is, the mint condition number.) The mint condition number would be calculated by the amount of random damage done to the piece by missed PoCs. The Crease software would simply track NFTs and whether or not the NFTs have been honoring their smart contract PoCs. Crease could be incorporated and integrated into Rarible, Nifty Gateway, and other platforms. To begin, Crease will be its own NFT marketplace.
CREASE COIN As stated, Crease coins would also be a way to show PoC. Crease would reward miners using Proof of Work to verify the Crease PoC transfers. It could also be that a NFT creator chooses that each PoC transfer would require an owner to pay a small fee in Crease to maintain their piece. Other PoC could involve owners engaged in computational problems to show their maintenance.
Details on this coming soon.
CONCLUSION As a young kid, I collected sports cards and comic books, we were always worried about the cards and comic books getting creases, that is damaged. Thus, I thought a good name would be Crease, after all, that is what using Crease attempts to avoid. NFTs are part of the new world, as things analog become digital. One aspect of the analog world that needs to enter the NFT space is the possibility of corruptibility. Crease offers a solution for that. Soon, Crease will be running on a testnet, and more technical details will be available regarding coins and other protocols.