Issue #56: Curation
If you’ve been reading the last few weeks, you know I’ve been thinking a lot about NFTs and the Web 3 social experience. Some of my early conclusions were:
NFTs will form the basis of our online identity
Our online identity is the combination of NFTs purchased and NFTs earned, and
Curation is king
I want to dive into curation a bit more this week because whoever cracks this is going to own mindshare.
Let’s zoom in…
Unlike your social media content today, NFTs are already online. You don’t need to post anything, you just need to curate it.
The most popular way to display your NFTs today is through a gallery. Art is displayed in a gallery, and a lot of NFTs are just digital art. Yada, yada, you get the connection.
In researching for this issue, I finally got around to setting up my NFT gallery. It’s a work in progress, but I’m excited to continue building it out. It felt similar to decorating a house. Here’s an example of a really well-curated gallery from @derekedws (he might not agree, but facts are facts).
The gallery is Web 3 Instagram - a curated collection of visuals based on the digital assets you own and the digital credentials you’ve acquired.
A personal anecdote - I paid attention to how I was using Opensea this week, and noticed I spend an equal amount of time on the “Profile” page looking at my own collection and hidden NFTs as I did actually browsing collections. It’s honestly the only way to see what I own and what I’ve been airdropped.
I think Opensea’s “Profile” feature is the most undervalued, highest-upside aspect of the platform. If I’m Opensea’s Head of Product, I’m spending a good chunk of my time figuring out how to get users to (a) develop their profile, and (b) look at other people’s profiles.
The gallery is ultimately a table stake, but if you can own mindshare, you can start adding features on top that have true network effects and competitive moats.
The shortcoming of galleries is they lack engagement. I can’t interact with you or your NFTs. It’s window shopping only. To address this, platforms are adding social features.
Inspired by the Web 2 social experience, platforms like Context, Zapper and Prysm are providing activity feeds, rankings and allowing you to follow wallets. They are bringing all the aspects of Web 2 social platforms we know and love into Web 3.
Not a major leap forward, but it has to happen this way. Despite having new technology (NFTs), the first wave of applications we conjure up are inspired by things we already have.
It takes time for innovation to compound.
Metadata is the contextual information that travels with an NFT. Up until now, metadata has been limited to owner/buyer/seller information…a chain of custody if you will. The wallet addresses and auction contracts that have interacted with an NFT are forever bound to that asset.
Once DeFi starts accepting NFTs as collateral and owners can putting their assets to work in the market, the metadata set associated with NFTs starts to get rich. The longer an NFT exists, the bigger the metadata set.
I’m excited to see the applications and experiences teams can build that leverage an asset metadata. There’s definitely a social/curation overlap here.
Token Gated Access
Regardless of what the NFT is - art, PFPs, credentials - it doubles as access/membership in a community of people that hold the same thing. They’re exclusive, and humans love to feel special.
We’re seeing NFT ownership serve as a curator of access. I couldn’t set up my Gallery.so page until I acquired a Gallery Membership Card NFT, and there are only so many available. It’s also increasingly common for DAOs to gate access to their Discord/Discord channels based on NFT ownership.
In these contexts, exclusivity is a helpful feature because it ensures the people who are there really want to be there.
Token-gated access is going to evolve a lot, and there will be giant social platforms built entirely on this model.
I’m torn on how Web 3 personas evolve.
Our online identities today are personas by default because everything we share is curated ahead of time. For example, I’ve made a conscious choice to only talk about crypto on Twitter. It’s professional for me. I don’t talk about sports, travel, or anything personal.
This is harder to accomplish in Web 3 because everything is on-chain and public by default. The solution is multiple personas - different wallet addresses for different activity. I’m not very disciplined in this department, and it’s something I want to improve on this year.
In general, I think people will gradually become more sophisticated in persona-management. We can bet on a robust set of tools to help us.
But I’m also aware that people are lazy and will avoid friction wherever possible, and managing multiple personas introduces friction.
There seem to be two parallel paths for the NFT social experience - one inspired by crypto trading that looks at NFTs as investments, with a floor price, where everyone is looking for the next Cryptopunk or BAYC, and a second that looks at NFTs as membership in a community, and is more about connecting owners.
I’m curious to see how these paths evolve, and whether they stay separate or intersect.
Thanks for reading,
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