What's up folks! Have you been noticing a bunch of profile pictures of apes, bears, 8-bit faces and owls scattered throughout social media? Have you been curious where they came from and what they're about? Well, they're called NFTs and "NFT" is an abbreviation for non-fungible token. Sorry...if I'm losing you but just bear with me.
The concept of non-fungibility pertains to a digital asset being unique and irreplaceable with something else. For instance, a one-dollar bill can be traded with another one-dollar bill and this will be an equal trade. That one-dollar bill is fungible. Whereas, if you traded a one-dollar bill with an original Michael Jackson autograph, it will not be equal to another one-dollar bill. Instead, it will be unique and will hold more value so that autographed one-dollar would be non-fungible. Another way to think of it is in terms of human beings. Genetically, no two humans are 100% identical. Therefore, humans are also non-fungible. Dope...we're all NFHs (non-fungible humans) lol.
All jokes aside, let's dive into some of the background of those ever-present social media profile pictures. Those images are digital assets or tokens which have been documented and stored on the blockchain. A blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions maintained by a network of computers in such a way that makes it super difficult to change the data. The information contained on the blockchain is secure, time-stamped and easily retrievable if the information needs to be verified. So, if you own a digital asset that's stored on the blockchain, that asset can be tracked back to you as the owner. That is not generally the case for other owned assets. For example, can someone really know that you own that MJ autographed one-dollar bill without you showing them you have it and you telling them that you own it? Not really. As you can see, showing ownership for other assets can get a little murky but for digital assets owned on the blockchain it's indisputable. For more of a technical breakdown of blockchain technology see the infographic below.
There are a bunch of different blockchains and there are also different types of NFTs. NFTs can represent plenty of real-world stuff like music, in-game items, videos, event tickets, and art. They can also serve as a collectible or even offer some real-life utility (i.e. physical entry into an event). The profile picture NFTs that you have been seeing are known as PFPs, which stands for picture for proof or simply, profile picture. And the majority of these were spawn from the two most popular blockchains for NFTs: Ethereum and Solana.
So, you know some background about these popular social media profile pictures and now you're thinking about joining the crowd! To do so, you'll need a digital wallet but each blockchain has their own respective wallet. For Ethereum, you'll need a MetaMask Wallet and for Solana you'll need a Phantom Wallet. See below for the instructions to download these wallets:
- To get step-by-step install instructions to add MetaMask as a browser extension or a mobile app CLICK HERE.
- To get step-by-step install instructions to add Phantom as a browser extension or mobile app CLICK HERE. Once you've installed the Phantom Browser extension, you'll be able to install the mobile app, which can be found in your respective app store. But just make sure you have your secret recovery phrase handy so you can us it to import your wallet over to the mobile version. If you find it helpful, here's a tutorial video as well.
Now that you have your new digital wallets set up, you'll need to fund them with cryptocurrency. For MetaMask you'll need to fund it with ETH (Ethereum) and for Phantom you'll need SOL (Solana). Set up an account on a crypto exchange like Coinbase in order to buy these cryptocurrencies. To open a Coinbase account, CLICK HERE.
Okay...you got your digital wallet and your new Coinbase account. You're making progress baby! Now, you have to move that ETH and SOL from your new Coinbase account into your MetaMask and Phantom wallets. See the below instructions on how to do just that:
- For instructions to transfer ETH from your Coinbase account to your MetaMask Wallet, CLICK HERE.
- For instructions to transfer SOL from your Coinbase account to your Phantom Wallet, CLICK HERE.
Phew! You've now got your ETH and SOL into your new MetaMask and Phantom wallets. The next step is to hit up some NFT marketplaces to shop for and potentially buy your first NFTs. The top NFT marketplace for Ethereum NFTs is Opensea and the top for Solana NFTs is Magic Eden. The true beauty of NFTs and Web 3 is that you can connect your digital wallets directly to these sites to make the shopping experience that much more seamless. In order to connect your wallet, you need to hit the button/icon in the upper right hand corner of both sites and enter your password when prompted. See the yellow highlighted sections on the below screenshots for reference.
But before you get your shop on and decide to cop your first NFTs make sure to do your own research (or in the words of Web 3, DYOR). NFTs are very risky asset class so be sure to invest only what you're willing to lose. Once you're finally ready to make the plunge, we might even see you sportin' a new social media profile picture. Dope! And who knows, you might even see us with an NFT project of our own in the near future. Hmmm...possibilities.