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Big Technology

‘Maybe we’re having a bust right now, but it’ll boom again’

OneZero is partnering with the Big Technology Podcast from Alex Kantrowitz to bring readers exclusive access to interview transcripts — edited for length and clarity — with notable figures in and around the tech industry.

To subscribe to the podcast and hear the interview for yourself, you can check it out on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

BuzzFeed News Executive Editor Mat Honan has long covered the way society interacts with technology. He joins Big Technology Podcast this week to discuss the “Zoom Class,” the rise of NFTs, and how San Francisco may change after the pandemic.

Pattern Matching

Blockchain takes a substantial toll on the environment that experts are beginning to reckon with

The price of one bitcoin, as I write this, is $57,383 — more than 10 times what it cost just a year ago. That price is volatile, so it will be different by the time you read this. But rest assured it will remain expensive.

There’s another toll, though, for every bitcoin created: the toll it takes on the environment. It’s one that is not paid in full by either the miner or the buyer. As bitcoin reaches new heights, fueled by advocates such as Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey, it’s a cost that’s becoming impossible to ignore.

The Pattern

Crypto faces…

And how you can, too

The Neoclassical painting “The Death of Socrates”
The Neoclassical painting “The Death of Socrates”

It took three hours, a partial understanding of some esoteric concepts, and $1,300, but I did it.

I created an NFT (well, four, to be precise).

You might’ve heard this term. If not, you will hear a lot about it. It’s the acronym for a non-fungible token, which is 2021-speak for “possibly, but not definitely a speculative mania.”

These “tokens” represent digital files with a key attribute: they are one-of-one. NFTs first emerged in 2017 with a project called CryptoPunks, which freely offered 10,000 unique digital avatars designed by an algorithm. Some had rarer attributes than others, like ones that…

The tokens are non-fungible, and the artwork is untouchable

Are physical goods worth more than digital ones? Is a physical painting worth more than a radical idea?

As I started investigating the non-fungible token—or NFT—craze, I wondered how and why people would pay thousands of dollars for a digital piece of art, trading card, meme, or virtual creature. According to EconClips, a YouTube channel about economics, “There are no goods of fixed value. They are valuable as long as people value them and only to that extent.”

EconClips’ video (which is also embedded at the bottom of this story) explains that people value, for instance, diamonds over water because…

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