Discover more from Life in Color
 NFTs: Place on the Internet
After a fun filled week at NFT NYC, I revisited the concept of “Place” on the Internet. When we see people in real life, we naturally go to a physical place. The concept of place on the Internet is more abstract since the Internet does not exist in the physical world. But the concept of place, which is crucial for innovation and community building, becomes more important as we spend more time online.
Let’s unpack how NFTs play a critical role in enabling place on the Internet.
Hope you enjoy!
🙏 Share Life in Color with a friend and ask them to subscribe
🙏 Share on Twitter / Linkedin with a short note
🙏 Share on your company Slack / Teams channels and communities
This past week, the Web3 community met up in New York City for NFT NYC - a week of events for all things NFTs. As is true for any NFT [Insert City Here] Weeks (NFT LA, NFT NYC, NFT Paris, etc), it seemed like for 1-week, the NFT universe converged in one place. If you attended NFT NYC, no matter where you went, you were running into different people across different parts of the city.
What was great about this week was just seeing people and having conversations with them IRL. After spending some much time on the Internet, there is still something unique about getting together in the same place. Jumping off of this thought, I revisited the concept of “place” as it relates to Internet communities.
A while back, I’ve written about the concept of Scenius. Scenius (defined by Brian Eno) means “the intelligence and intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of genius."
In short Scenius describes why time periods and places like the Renaissance and Silicon Valley were centers of innovation and new ideas.
In our essay on Scenius, I asked if the concept of “digital scenius” was a paradox.
Can you have Scenius without a physical place (i.e. on the Internet, where we are increasingly spending more time)?
The answer is “yes,” but we need an organization mechanism to create the concept of place on the Internet — that organization mechanism is NFTs.
The Importance of Having “Place”
Communities need a place to connect.
This concept is easier to understand for IRL communities. If you went to college, the place where community gathers might be the dorms or the dining hall. Similarly, if you were a part of a running club, the place where community gathers is where all the runners run.
Having a place to gather is a critical part of community building. A place to gather allows for a few things:
Enabling people to connect: A place to gather gives individuals a logical place to interact, share experiences, and build relationships. This encourages people to bond with others over similar interests, values, or backgrounds.
Cultivating a shared identity / culture: A shared identity forms among community members when they bond over similar experiences, traditions, and beliefs within their gathering place.
Encouraging participation / engagement: Having a place to gather encourages community members to participate in activities, discussions, and events. A good environment encourages more engagement
Promoting Peer-to-Peer support: community members can support each other, whether it’s with something simple like answering questions or something more serious like asking for advice.
Exchanging of ideas: Gathering spaces enable the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and resources among community members which can lead to community members wanting to work together.
Any / all of the above are evident of the most innovative time periods in history — from Renaissance town squares, to the French Salons of the Enlightenment to Camp4 (rock climbing camp where some of the best climbers trained) in Yosemite.
Internet Communities and Place
While the importance of place IRL is well established and understood, the concept of place on the internet is an entirely different thing.
In the physical world, it's relatively easy to create a sense of place. For example, employees at a company can rely on the physical office as a gathering place. Even if they forget their badge, they know the office exists and can return to it. Physical signals serve as features that create the concept of place (and with place comes a sense of community).
On the internet, the concept of place is more abstract, but as important if not more important because the Internet is not a physical thing.
The Internet offers limitless possibilities for communities to form. But because the Internet is infinite, it can be a chaotic and disorganized environment. Similar to physical spaces, we need a mechanism that organizes all the different sub-groups and niches happening on the Internet.
As we spend more time online, it becomes increasingly critical to establish a sense of place that nurtures online communities.
Traditional social media platforms provide a means for people to connect and communicate, but they are missing a few things. They suffer from a Sybil problem: users can create multiple accounts, making it difficult to determine whether someone genuinely belongs to a community.
To organize all of the communities on the internet, there needs to be an organization mechanism with true ownership that also serves as an identity primitive for different people in a community to come together.
This is where NFTs come in.
NFTs Enable “Place”
Because NFTs enable true ownership, communities can form on the Internet without depending on any single platform to govern how and where a community comes together.
Before NFTs, online communities might gather on a platform like Discord. If the platform ceases to exist, the community becomes fragmented and lost because the community was organized on Discord and everyone knew each other through that platform’s naming system (i.e. Discord usernames).
In this world, the platform itself owns the “place” that the community gathers around.
In a world with NFTs, even if a platform disappears, the community can migrate elsewhere because the sense of place and belonging is tied to the NFTs themselves, rather than a specific website, service or platform.
Any community can form as long as they have an identifying mechanism that signals and proves whether an individual belongs to the community.
If we see NFT collections as a database that tells you whether you are a part of that collection or not, you can now organize things targeted and specific to the NFT holders of that collection.
At NFT NYC, what this looked like was, if you held x-NFT, you could come to this event we are hosting. It’s a fairly basic use case we are use to in the real world. But as the technology evolves and UI/UX improves, we can imagine how NFTs could be used by any group of people or community to organize around ideas.
And once you have a way to organize people around ideas, they can come together and get work done.
NFTs create a sense of place on the Internet.
By using NFTs to create a sense of place, we can foster online communities that are more resilient and adaptable. This enables people with shared interests, values and passions to organize and create.
NFTs as an organization mechanism can enable Scenius across an endless number of communities on the Internet.
Why is this so important?
Because our ability to organize allows us to to create and grow through our communities.
Community is a key part of the human experience.
🥳 Get with the times and subscribe to Life in Color! 👇