From time to time we come across interesting conversations about NFTs, blockchain, crypto and the Creator Economy — topics that we care about and that our venture Digital Culture Works is deeply involved with. Here are three recent conversations that we found illuminating on some of our favorite podcasts.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: It’s about art & collaboration
On the Aug. 16, 2021, episode of the Sway podcast by Kara Swisher, Hollywood actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Kara discuss the increasing influence that Silicon Valley now exerts over Hollywood. (I wouldn’t go as far as they go in concluding that Big Tech now “owns” Hollywood, but Netflix, Amazon Prime and, increasingly, Apple TV have certainly disrupted the legacy studios.)
Gordon-Levitt, who stars in the upcoming Mr. Corman for Apple TV and who co-starred in 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996–2001) and in such movies as 500 Days of Summer, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, had this to say about the emerging shift from an advertising-based, attention-centric media model to one centered on creators themselves:
“That [fame and attention] is not the ship that’s gonna make you happy. That stuff is more like a drug. And so, I love the idea of a lot of people being interested in art and creativity and expressing themselves. But how can we kind of reorient our minds around that art and creativity away from get as many followers as you can get as much attention as you can?
“My most meaningful and joyful experiences don’t come from the red carpet or from box office or anything like that. They come from being in the middle of making this little thing work, or making it fun, making it good, doing it together with other people. That is the juice. That’s the really good stuff. So I would love to see art and creativity oriented around that as a goal.”
Disintermediating the big social media platforms
On the March 10 episode of the Equity podcast, TechCrunch editor-in-chief Matthew Panzarino and the show’s hosts discuss how NFTs are changing cultural value creation. Will NFTs usher in a new era where artists and content creators can sustain their craft independent of a big company? Said Panzarino:
“NFTs and the architecture of smart contracts and the way that social tokens work, these are all opportunities for the creators and originators of culture to finally take part and participate in their rewards of the platforms of that culture — you know, that hosts that culture. Because we’ve seen it over and over again: Artist blows up on TikTok, and you know, somebody does a dance to them, and then that video blows up. What does the artist get out of it? Sometimes they get a recording deal. Many times they get nothing. Right?
“Vine was famously built on Black creators and brown creators and Latino creators. TikTok, very much the same. Black Twitter one of the early driving forces of engagement on Twitter and culture on Twitter — how many of them were actually able to participate in the economic rewards of Twitter as a platform selling advertising and making millions of dollars and their stock going bonkers? … So the remapping of how creators can participate in that economy directly by saying, ‘Hey, I’ve created something of value, and I’d love to connect directly with the people that enjoy that and they can provide me value back’ — that’s what’s so exciting and interesting about this.
“And there are many many mechanics, beyond just, ‘I sold a piece of art that are enabled by NFTs and tokenization as a whole,’ that I think we’ll see develop over time. I’ve seen people, for instance, … buy into a social token, and that social token gives people access to that community and then in that community, they can get things like advance pre-sales of tickets or special concerts that are for those members only and that token unlocks that world of fandom or or community with that person. And right now, all of that is disintermediated by the platform’s tools and architecture. Famously, YouTube has launched next to zero tools for creators in the last 10 years. … Maybe it’s time for a more direct relationship between the creator who’s doing most of the work anyway, and the users.
DC Investor sees social recovery for crypto wallets ahead
Switching gears, on the Aug. 13, 2021, episode of Kevin Rose’s Modern Finance podcast, he and guest DC Investor were surveying the still-not-ready-for-prime-time state of the crypto/NFT marketplace. More development needs to be done to make crypto transactions understandable to the masses, including how to recover assets once a wallet’s seed phrase is lost.
DC Investor, whose appearances on several pods show a deep understanding of both the opportunities and challenges in the crypto space, said:
“I think most people in crypto now understand this but if you lose those secret seed words or the secret passphrase. That’s it, you’re done. There’s no way to recover your assets, and I think a lot of people who are used to like the web mindset of I’ll just reset my password. It’s like there’s no password reset. So I do think though, as I mentioned earlier, we’re talking about the smart contract wallets, which are going to have things like social recovery built into them. And so when we switch the wallets like that, eventually this is going to be less of an issue, because you can have like five trusted individuals who might not even know each other. And if you lose access, you can reach out to two or three of them and they can restore access to your account. So we will eventually get to that kind of stage, and where that technology is cheap and mainstream, but we’re just not there yet.”