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Koji Mochizuki

Koji Mochizuki

1 year ago

How to Launch an NFT Project by Yourself

Creating 10,000 auto-generated artworks, deploying a smart contract to the Ethereum / Polygon blockchain, setting up some tools, etc.

There is so much to do from launching to running an NFT project. Creating parts for artworks, generating 10,000 unique artworks and metadata, creating a smart contract and deploying it to a blockchain network, creating a website, creating a Twitter account, setting up a Discord server, setting up an OpenSea collection. In addition, you need to have MetaMask installed in your browser and have some ETH / MATIC. Did you get tired of doing all this? Don’t worry, once you know what you need to do, all you have to do is do it one by one.

To be honest, it’s best to run an NFT project in a team of three or more, including artists, developers, and marketers. However, depending on your motivation, you can do it by yourself. Some people might come later to offer help with your project. The most important thing is to take a step as soon as possible.

Creating Parts for Artworks

There are lots of free/paid software for drawing, but after all, I think Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop is the best. The images of Skulls In Love are a composite of 48x48 pixel parts created using Photoshop.

The most important thing in creating parts for generative art is to repeatedly test what your artworks will look like after each layer has been combined. The generated artworks should not be too unnatural.

How Many Parts Should You Create?

Are you wondering how many parts you should create to avoid duplication as much as possible when generating your artworks? My friend Stephane, a developer, has created a great tool to help with that.

Generating 10,000 Unique Artworks and Metadata

I highly recommend using the HashLips Art Engine to generate your artworks and metadata. Perhaps there is no better artworks generation tool at the moment.

GitHub: https://github.com/HashLips/hashlips_art_engine
YouTube:

Storing Artworks and Metadata

Ideally, the generated artworks and metadata should be stored on-chain, but if you want to store them off-chain, you should use IPFS. Do not store in centralized storage. This is because data will be lost if the server goes down or if the company goes down. On the other hand, IPFS is a more secure way to find data because it utilizes a distributed, decentralized system.

Storing to IPFS is easy with Pinata, NFT.Storage, and so on. The Skulls In Love uses Pinata. It’s very easy to use, just upload the folder containing your artworks.

Creating and Deploying a Smart Contract

You don’t have to create a smart contract from scratch. There are many great NFT projects, many of which publish their contract source code on Etherscan / PolygonScan. You can choose the contract you like and reuse it. Of course, that requires some knowledge of Solidity, but it depends on your efforts. If you don’t know which contract to choose, use the HashLips smart contract. It’s very simple, but it has almost all the functions you need.

GitHub: https://github.com/HashLips/hashlips_nft_contract

Note: Later on, you may want to change the cost value. You can change it on Remix or Etherscan / PolygonScan. But in this case, enter the Wei value instead of the Ether value. For example, if you want to sell for 1 MATIC, you have to enter “1000000000000000000”. If you set this value to “1”, you will have a nightmare. I recommend using Simple Unit Converter as a tool to calculate the Wei value.

Creating a Website

The website here is not just a static site to showcase your project, it’s a so-called dApp that allows you to access your smart contract and mint NFTs. In fact, this level of dApp is not too difficult for anyone who has ever created a website. Because the ethers.js / web3.js libraries make it easy to interact with your smart contract. There’s also no problem connecting wallets, as MetaMask has great documentation.

The Skulls In Love uses a simple, fast, and modern dApp that I built from scratch using Next.js. It is published on GitHub, so feel free to use it.

Why do people mint NFTs on a website?

Ethereum’s gas fees are high, so if you mint all your NFTs, there will be a huge initial cost. So it makes sense to get the buyers to help with the gas fees for minting.
What about Polygon? Polygon’s gas fees are super cheap, so even if you mint 10,000 NFTs, it’s not a big deal. But we don’t do that. Since NFT projects are a kind of game, it involves the fun of not knowing what will come out after minting.

Creating a Twitter Account

I highly recommend creating a Twitter account. Twitter is an indispensable tool for announcing giveaways and reaching more people. It’s better to announce your project and your artworks little by little, 1–2 weeks before launching your project.

Creating and Setting Up a Discord Server

I highly recommend creating a Discord server as well as a Twitter account. The Discord server is a community and its home. Fans of your NFT project will want to join your community and interact with many other members. So, carefully create each channel on your Discord server to make it a cozy place for your community members.

If you are unfamiliar with Discord, you may be particularly confused by the following:
What bots should I use?
How should I set roles and permissions?
But don’t worry. There are lots of great YouTube videos and blog posts about these.
It’s also a good idea to join the Discord servers of some NFT projects and see how they’re made. Our Discord server is so simple that even beginners will find it easy to understand. Please join us and see it!

Note: First, create a test account and a test server to make sure your bots and permissions work properly. It is better to verify the behavior on the test server before setting up your production server.

UPDATED: As your Discord server grows, you cannot manage it on your own. In this case, you will be hiring several moderators, but choose carefully before hiring. And don’t give them important role permissions right after hiring. Initially, the same permissions as other members are sufficient. After a while, you can add permissions as needed, such as kicking/banning, using the “@every” tag, and adding roles. Again, don’t immediately give significant permissions to your Mod role. Your server can be messed up by fake moderators.

Setting Up Your OpenSea Collection

Before you start selling your NFTs, you need to reserve some for airdrops, giveaways, staff, and more. It’s up to you whether it’s 100, 500, or how many.

After minting some of your NFTs, your account and collection should have been created in OpenSea. Go to OpenSea, connect to your wallet, and set up your collection. Just set your logo, banner image, description, links, royalties, and more. It’s not that difficult.

Promoting Your Project

After all, promotion is the most important thing. In fact, almost every successful NFT project spends a lot of time and effort on it.

In addition to Twitter and Discord, it’s even better to use Instagram, Reddit, and Medium. Also, register your project in NFTCalendar and DISBOARD

DISBOARD is the public Discord server listing community.

About Promoters

You’ll probably get lots of contacts from promoters on your Discord, Twitter, Instagram, and more. But most of them are scams, so don’t pay right away. If you have a promoter that looks attractive to you, be sure to check the promoter’s social media accounts or website to see who he/she is. They basically charge in dollars. The amount they charge isn’t cheap, but promoters with lots of followers may have some temporary effect on your project. Some promoters accept 50% prepaid and 50% postpaid. If you can afford it, it might be worth a try. I never ask them, though.

When Should the Promotion Activities Start?

You may be worried that if you promote your project before it starts, someone will copy your project (artworks). It is true that some projects have actually suffered such damage. I don’t have a clear answer to this question right now, but:

  • Do not publish all the information about your project too early
  • The information should be released little by little
  • Creating artworks that no one can easily copy
    I think these are important.
    If anyone has a good idea, please share it!

About Giveaways

When hosting giveaways, you’ll probably use multiple social media platforms. You may want to grow your Discord server faster. But if joining the Discord server is included in the giveaway requirements, some people hate it. I recommend holding giveaways for each platform. On Twitter and Reddit, you should just add the words “Discord members-only giveaway is being held now! Please join us if you like!”.

If you want to easily pick a giveaway winner in your browser, I recommend Twitter Picker.

Precautions for Distributing Free NFTs

If you want to increase your Twitter followers and Discord members, you can actually get a lot of people by holding events such as giveaways and invite contests. However, distributing many free NFTs at once can be dangerous. Some people who want free NFTs, as soon as they get a free one, sell it at a very low price on marketplaces such as OpenSea. They don’t care about your project and are only thinking about replacing their own “free” NFTs with Ethereum. The lower the floor price of your NFTs, the lower the value of your NFTs (project). Try to think of ways to get people to “buy” your NFTs as much as possible.

Ethereum vs. Polygon

Even though Ethereum has high gas fees, NFT projects on the Ethereum network are still mainstream and popular. On the other hand, Polygon has very low gas fees and fast transaction processing, but NFT projects on the Polygon network are not very popular.

Why? There are several reasons, but the biggest one is that it’s a lot of work to get MATIC (on Polygon blockchain, use MATIC instead of ETH) ready to use. Simply put, you need to bridge your tokens to the Polygon chain. So people need to do this first before minting your NFTs on your website. It may not be a big deal for those who are familiar with crypto and blockchain, but it may be complicated for those who are not. I hope that the tedious work will be simplified in the near future.

If you are confident that your NFTs will be purchased even if they are expensive, or if the total supply of your NFTs is low, you may choose Ethereum. If you just want to save money, you should choose Polygon. Keep in mind that gas fees are incurred not only when minting, but also when performing some of your smart contract functions and when transferring your NFTs.
If I were to launch a new NFT project, I would probably choose Ethereum or Solana.

Conclusion

Some people may want to start an NFT project to make money, but don’t forget to enjoy your own project. Several months ago, I was playing with creating generative art by imitating the CryptoPunks. I found out that auto-generated artworks would be more interesting than I had imagined, and since then I’ve been completely absorbed in generative art.

This is one of the Skulls In Love artworks:

This character wears a cowboy hat, black slim sunglasses, and a kimono. If anyone looks like this, I can’t help laughing!

The Skulls In Love NFTs can be minted for a small amount of MATIC on the official website. Please give it a try to see what kind of unique characters will appear 💀💖

Thank you for reading to the end. I hope this article will be helpful to those who want to launch an NFT project in the future ✨

(Edited)

More on Web3 & Crypto

David Z. Morris

1 year ago

FTX's crash was no accident, it was a crime

Sam Bankman Fried (SDBF) is a legendary con man. But the NYT might not tell you that...

Since SBF's empire was revealed to be a lie, mainstream news organizations and commentators have failed to give readers a straightforward assessment. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have uncovered many key facts about the scandal, but they have also soft-peddled Bankman-Fried's intent and culpability.

It's clear that the FTX crypto exchange and Alameda Research committed fraud to steal money from users and investors. That’s why a recent New York Times interview was widely derided for seeming to frame FTX’s collapse as the result of mismanagement rather than malfeasance. A Wall Street Journal article lamented FTX's loss of charitable donations, bolstering Bankman's philanthropic pose. Matthew Yglesias, court chronicler of the neoliberal status quo, seemed to whitewash his own entanglements by crediting SBF's money with helping Democrats in 2020 – sidestepping the likelihood that the money was embezzled.

Many outlets have called what happened to FTX a "bank run" or a "run on deposits," but Bankman-Fried insists the company was overleveraged and disorganized. Both attempts to frame the fallout obscure the core issue: customer funds misused.

Because banks lend customer funds to generate returns, they can experience "bank runs." If everyone withdraws at once, they can experience a short-term cash crunch but there won't be a long-term problem.

Crypto exchanges like FTX aren't banks. They don't do bank-style lending, so a withdrawal surge shouldn't strain liquidity. FTX promised customers it wouldn't lend or use their crypto.

Alameda's balance sheet blurs SBF's crypto empire.

The funds were sent to Alameda Research, where they were apparently gambled away. This is massive theft. According to a bankruptcy document, up to 1 million customers could be affected.

In less than a month, reporting and the bankruptcy process have uncovered a laundry list of decisions and practices that would constitute financial fraud if FTX had been a U.S.-regulated entity, even without crypto-specific rules. These ploys may be litigated in U.S. courts if they enabled the theft of American property.

The list is very, very long.

The many crimes of Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX

At the heart of SBF's fraud are the deep and (literally) intimate ties between FTX and Alameda Research, a hedge fund he co-founded. An exchange makes money from transaction fees on user assets, but Alameda trades and invests its own funds.

Bankman-Fried called FTX and Alameda "wholly separate" and resigned as Alameda's CEO in 2019. The two operations were closely linked. Bankman-Fried and Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison were romantically linked.

These circumstances enabled SBF's sin.  Within days of FTX's first signs of weakness, it was clear the exchange was funneling customer assets to Alameda for trading, lending, and investing. Reuters reported on Nov. 12 that FTX sent $10 billion to Alameda. As much as $2 billion was believed to have disappeared after being sent to Alameda. Now the losses look worse.

It's unclear why those funds were sent to Alameda or when Bankman-Fried betrayed his depositors. On-chain analysis shows most FTX to Alameda transfers occurred in late 2021, and bankruptcy filings show both lost $3.7 billion in 2021.

SBF's companies lost millions before the 2022 crypto bear market. They may have stolen funds before Terra and Three Arrows Capital, which killed many leveraged crypto players.

FTT loans and prints

CoinDesk's report on Alameda's FTT holdings ignited FTX and Alameda Research. FTX created this instrument, but only a small portion was traded publicly; FTX and Alameda held the rest. These holdings were illiquid, meaning they couldn't be sold at market price. Bankman-Fried valued its stock at the fictitious price.

FTT tokens were reportedly used as collateral for loans, including FTX loans to Alameda. Close ties between FTX and Alameda made the FTT token harder or more expensive to use as collateral, reducing the risk to customer funds.

This use of an internal asset as collateral for loans between clandestinely related entities is similar to Enron's 1990s accounting fraud. These executives served 12 years in prison.

Alameda's margin liquidation exemption

Alameda Research had a "secret exemption" from FTX's liquidation and margin trading rules, according to legal filings by FTX's new CEO.

FTX, like other crypto platforms and some equity or commodity services, offered "margin" or loans for trades. These loans are usually collateralized, meaning borrowers put up other funds or assets. If a margin trade loses enough money, the exchange will sell the user's collateral to pay off the initial loan.

Keeping asset markets solvent requires liquidating bad margin positions. Exempting Alameda would give it huge advantages while exposing other FTX users to hidden risks. Alameda could have kept losing positions open while closing out competitors. Alameda could lose more on FTX than it could pay back, leaving a hole in customer funds.

The exemption is criminal in multiple ways. FTX was fraudulently marketed overall. Instead of a level playing field, there were many customers.

Above them all, with shotgun poised, was Alameda Research.

Alameda front-running FTX listings

Argus says there's circumstantial evidence that Alameda Research had insider knowledge of FTX's token listing plans. Alameda was able to buy large amounts of tokens before the listing and sell them after the price bump.

If true, these claims would be the most brazenly illegal of Alameda and FTX's alleged shenanigans. Even if the tokens aren't formally classified as securities, insider trading laws may apply.

In a similar case this year, an OpenSea employee was charged with wire fraud for allegedly insider trading. This employee faces 20 years in prison for front-running monkey JPEGs.

Huge loans to executives

Alameda Research reportedly lent FTX executives $4.1 billion, including massive personal loans. Bankman-Fried received $1 billion in personal loans and $2.3 billion for an entity he controlled, Paper Bird. Nishad Singh, director of engineering, was given $543 million, and FTX Digital Markets co-CEO Ryan Salame received $55 million.

FTX has more smoking guns than a Texas shooting range, but this one is the smoking bazooka – a sign of criminal intent. It's unclear how most of the personal loans were used, but liquidators will have to recoup the money.

The loans to Paper Bird were even more worrisome because they created another related third party to shuffle assets. Forbes speculates that some Paper Bird funds went to buy Binance's FTX stake, and Paper Bird committed hundreds of millions to outside investments.

FTX Inner Circle: Who's Who

That included many FTX-backed VC funds. Time will tell if this financial incest was criminal fraud. It fits Bankman-pattern Fried's of using secret flows, leverage, and funny money to inflate asset prices.

FTT or loan 'bailouts'

Also. As the crypto bear market continued in 2022, Bankman-Fried proposed bailouts for bankrupt crypto lenders BlockFi and Voyager Digital. CoinDesk was among those deceived, welcoming SBF as a J.P. Morgan-style sector backstop.

In a now-infamous interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box," Bankman-Fried referred to these decisions as bets that may or may not pay off.

But maybe not. Bloomberg's Matt Levine speculated that FTX backed BlockFi with FTT money. This Monopoly bailout may have been intended to hide FTX and Alameda liabilities that would have been exposed if BlockFi went bankrupt sooner. This ploy has no name, but it echoes other corporate frauds.

Secret bank purchase

Alameda Research invested $11.5 million in the tiny Farmington State Bank, doubling its net worth. As a non-U.S. entity and an investment firm, Alameda should have cleared regulatory hurdles before acquiring a U.S. bank.

In the context of FTX, the bank's stake becomes "ominous." Alameda and FTX could have done more shenanigans with bank control. Compare this to the Bank for Credit and Commerce International's failed attempts to buy U.S. banks. BCCI was even nefarious than FTX and wanted to buy U.S. banks to expand its money-laundering empire.

The mainstream's mistakes

These are complex and nuanced forms of fraud that echo traditional finance models. This obscurity helped Bankman-Fried masquerade as an honest player and likely kept coverage soft after the collapse.

Bankman-Fried had a scruffy, nerdy image, like Mark Zuckerberg and Adam Neumann. In interviews, he spoke nonsense about an industry full of jargon and complicated tech. Strategic donations and insincere ideological statements helped him gain political and social influence.

SBF' s'Effective' Altruism Blew Up FTX

Bankman-Fried has continued to muddy the waters with disingenuous letters, statements, interviews, and tweets since his con collapsed. He's tried to portray himself as a well-intentioned but naive kid who made some mistakes. This is a softer, more pernicious version of what Trump learned from mob lawyer Roy Cohn. Bankman-Fried doesn't "deny, deny, deny" but "confuse, evade, distort."

It's mostly worked. Kevin O'Leary, who plays an investor on "Shark Tank," repeats Bankman-SBF's counterfactuals.  O'Leary called Bankman-Fried a "savant" and "probably one of the most accomplished crypto traders in the world" in a Nov. 27 interview with Business Insider, despite recent data indicating immense trading losses even when times were good.

O'Leary's status as an FTX investor and former paid spokesperson explains his continued affection for Bankman-Fried despite contradictory evidence. He's not the only one promoting Bankman-Fried. The disgraced son of two Stanford law professors will defend himself at Wednesday's DealBook Summit.

SBF's fraud and theft rival those of Bernie Madoff and Jho Low. Whether intentionally or through malign ineptitude, the fraud echoes Worldcom and Enron.

The Perverse Impacts of Anti-Money-Laundering

The principals in all of those scandals wound up either sentenced to prison or on the run from the law. Sam Bankman-Fried clearly deserves to share their fate.

Read the full article here.

Shan Vernekar

Shan Vernekar

11 months ago

How the Ethereum blockchain's transactions are carried out

Overview

Ethereum blockchain is a network of nodes that validate transactions. Any network node can be queried for blockchain data for free. To write data as a transition requires processing and writing to each network node's storage. Fee is paid in ether and is also called as gas.

We'll examine how user-initiated transactions flow across the network and into the blockchain.

Flow of transactions

  • A user wishes to move some ether from one external account to another. He utilizes a cryptocurrency wallet for this (like Metamask), which is a browser extension.

  • The user enters the desired transfer amount and the external account's address. He has the option to choose the transaction cost he is ready to pay.

  • Wallet makes use of this data, signs it with the user's private key, and writes it to an Ethereum node. Services such as Infura offer APIs that enable writing data to nodes. One of these services is used by Metamask. An example transaction is shown below. Notice the “to” address and value fields.

var rawTxn = {
    nonce: web3.toHex(txnCount),
    gasPrice: web3.toHex(100000000000),
    gasLimit: web3.toHex(140000),
    to: '0x633296baebc20f33ac2e1c1b105d7cd1f6a0718b',
    value: web3.toHex(0),
    data: '0xcc9ab24952616d6100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000'
};
  • The transaction is written to the target Ethereum node's local TRANSACTION POOL. It informed surrounding nodes of the new transaction, and those nodes reciprocated. Eventually, this transaction is received by and written to each node's local TRANSACTION pool.

  • The miner who finds the following block first adds pending transactions (with a higher gas cost) from the nearby TRANSACTION POOL to the block.

  • The transactions written to the new block are verified by other network nodes.

  • A block is added to the main blockchain after there is consensus and it is determined to be genuine. The local blockchain is updated with the new node by additional nodes as well.

  • Block mining begins again next.

The image above shows how transactions go via the network and what's needed to submit them to the main block chain.

References

ethereum.org/transactions How Ethereum transactions function, their data structure, and how to send them via app. ethereum.org

Max Parasol

Max Parasol

1 year ago

What the hell is Web3 anyway?

"Web 3.0" is a trendy buzzword with a vague definition. Everyone agrees it has to do with a blockchain-based internet evolution, but what is it?

Yet, the meaning and prospects for Web3 have become hot topics in crypto communities. Big corporations use the term to gain a foothold in the space while avoiding the negative connotations of “crypto.”

But it can't be evaluated without a definition.

Among those criticizing Web3's vagueness is Cobie:

“Despite the dominie's deluge of undistinguished think pieces, nobody really agrees on what Web3 is. Web3 is a scam, the future, tokenizing the world, VC exit liquidity, or just another name for crypto, depending on your tribe.

“Even the crypto community is split on whether Bitcoin is Web3,” he adds.

The phrase was coined by an early crypto thinker, and the community has had years to figure out what it means. Many ideologies and commercial realities have driven reverse engineering.

Web3 is becoming clearer as a concept. It contains ideas. It was probably coined by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014. His definition of Web3 included “trustless transactions” as part of its tech stack. Wood founded the Web3 Foundation and the Polkadot network, a Web3 alternative future.

The 2013 Ethereum white paper had previously allowed devotees to imagine a DAO, for example.

Web3 now has concepts like decentralized autonomous organizations, sovereign digital identity, censorship-free data storage, and data divided by multiple servers. They intertwine discussions about the “Web3” movement and its viability.

These ideas are linked by Cobie's initial Web3 definition. A key component of Web3 should be “ownership of value” for one's own content and data.

Noting that “late-stage capitalism greedcorps that make you buy a fractionalized micropayment NFT on Cardano to operate your electric toothbrush” may build the new web, he notes that “crypto founders are too rich to care anymore.”

Very Important

Many critics of Web3 claim it isn't practical or achievable. Web3 critics like Moxie Marlinspike (creator of sslstrip and Signal/TextSecure) can never see people running their own servers. Early in January, he argued that protocols are more difficult to create than platforms.

While this is true, some projects, like the file storage protocol IPFS, allow users to choose which jurisdictions their data is shared between.

But full decentralization is a difficult problem. Suhaza, replying to Moxie, said:

”People don't want to run servers... Companies are now offering API access to an Ethereum node as a service... Almost all DApps interact with the blockchain using Infura or Alchemy. In fact, when a DApp uses a wallet like MetaMask to interact with the blockchain, MetaMask is just calling Infura!

So, here are the questions: Web3: Is it a go? Is it truly decentralized?

Web3 history is shaped by Web2 failure.

This is the story of how the Internet was turned upside down...

Then came the vision. Everyone can create content for free. Decentralized open-source believers like Tim Berners-Lee popularized it.

Real-world data trade-offs for content creation and pricing.

A giant Wikipedia page married to a giant Craig's List. No ads, no logins, and a private web carve-up. For free usage, you give up your privacy and data to the algorithmic targeted advertising of Web 2.

Our data is centralized and savaged by giant corporations. Data localization rules and geopolitical walls like China's Great Firewall further fragment the internet.

The decentralized Web3 reflects Berners-original Lee's vision: "No permission is required from a central authority to post anything... there is no central controlling node and thus no single point of failure." Now he runs Solid, a Web3 data storage startup.

So Web3 starts with decentralized servers and data privacy.

Web3 begins with decentralized storage.

Data decentralization is a key feature of the Web3 tech stack. Web2 has closed databases. Large corporations like Facebook, Google, and others go to great lengths to collect, control, and monetize data. We want to change it.

Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, and Huawei, according to Gartner, currently control 80% of the global cloud infrastructure market. Web3 wants to change that.

Decentralization enlarges power structures by giving participants a stake in the network. Users own data on open encrypted networks in Web3. This area has many projects.

Apps like Filecoin and IPFS have led the way. Data is replicated across multiple nodes in Web3 storage providers like Filecoin.

But the new tech stack and ideology raise many questions.

Giving users control over their data

According to Ryan Kris, COO of Verida, his “Web3 vision” is “empowering people to control their own data.”

Verida targets SDKs that address issues in the Web3 stack: identity, messaging, personal storage, and data interoperability.

A big app suite? “Yes, but it's a frontier technology,” he says. They are currently building a credentialing system for decentralized health in Bermuda.

By empowering individuals, how will Web3 create a fairer internet? Kris, who has worked in telecoms, finance, cyber security, and blockchain consulting for decades, admits it is difficult:

“The viability of Web3 raises some good business questions,” he adds. “How can users regain control over centralized personal data? How are startups motivated to build products and tools that support this transition? How are existing Web2 companies encouraged to pivot to a Web3 business model to compete with market leaders?

Kris adds that new technologies have regulatory and practical issues:

"On storage, IPFS is great for redundantly sharing public data, but not designed for securing private personal data. It is not controlled by the users. When data storage in a specific country is not guaranteed, regulatory issues arise."

Each project has varying degrees of decentralization. The diehards say DApps that use centralized storage are no longer “Web3” companies. But fully decentralized technology is hard to build.

Web2.5?

Some argue that we're actually building Web2.5 businesses, which are crypto-native but not fully decentralized. This is vital. For example, the NFT may be on a blockchain, but it is linked to centralized data repositories like OpenSea. A server failure could result in data loss.

However, according to Apollo Capital crypto analyst David Angliss, OpenSea is “not exactly community-led”. Also in 2021, much to the chagrin of crypto enthusiasts, OpenSea tried and failed to list on the Nasdaq.

This is where Web2.5 is defined.

“Web3 isn't a crypto segment. “Anything that uses a blockchain for censorship resistance is Web3,” Angliss tells us.

“Web3 gives users control over their data and identity. This is not possible in Web2.”

“Web2 is like feudalism, with walled-off ecosystems ruled by a few. For example, an honest user owned the Instagram account “Meta,” which Facebook rebranded and then had to make up a reason to suspend. Not anymore with Web3. If I buy ‘Ethereum.ens,' Ethereum cannot take it away from me.”

Angliss uses OpenSea as a Web2.5 business example. Too decentralized, i.e. censorship resistant, can be unprofitable for a large company like OpenSea. For example, OpenSea “enables NFT trading”. But it also stopped the sale of stolen Bored Apes.”

Web3 (or Web2.5, depending on the context) has been described as a new way to privatize internet.

“Being in the crypto ecosystem doesn't make it Web3,” Angliss says. The biggest risk is centralized closed ecosystems rather than a growing Web3.

LooksRare and OpenDAO are two community-led platforms that are more decentralized than OpenSea. LooksRare has even been “vampire attacking” OpenSea, indicating a Web3 competitor to the Web2.5 NFT king could find favor.

The addition of a token gives these new NFT platforms more options for building customer loyalty. For example, OpenSea charges a fee that goes nowhere. Stakeholders of LOOKS tokens earn 100% of the trading fees charged by LooksRare on every basic sale.

Maybe Web3's time has come.

So whose data is it?

Continuing criticisms of Web3 platforms' decentralization may indicate we're too early. Users want to own and store their in-game assets and NFTs on decentralized platforms like the Metaverse and play-to-earn games. Start-ups like Arweave, Sia, and Aleph.im  propose an alternative.

To be truly decentralized, Web3 requires new off-chain models that sidestep cloud computing and Web2.5.

“Arweave and Sia emerged as formidable competitors this year,” says the Messari Report. They seek to reduce the risk of an NFT being lost due to a data breach on a centralized server.

Aleph.im, another Web3 cloud competitor, seeks to replace cloud computing with a service network. It is a decentralized computing network that supports multiple blockchains by retrieving and encrypting data.

“The Aleph.im network provides a truly decentralized alternative where it is most needed: storage and computing,” says Johnathan Schemoul, founder of Aleph.im. For reasons of consensus and security, blockchains are not designed for large storage or high-performance computing.

As a result, large data sets are frequently stored off-chain, increasing the risk for centralized databases like OpenSea

Aleph.im enables users to own digital assets using both blockchains and off-chain decentralized cloud technologies.

"We need to go beyond layer 0 and 1 to build a robust decentralized web. The Aleph.im ecosystem is proving that Web3 can be decentralized, and we intend to keep going.”

Aleph.im raised $10 million in mid-January 2022, and Ubisoft uses its network for NFT storage. This is the first time a big-budget gaming studio has given users this much control.

It also suggests Web3 could work as a B2B model, even if consumers aren't concerned about “decentralization.” Starting with gaming is common.

Can Tokenomics help Web3 adoption?

Web3 consumer adoption is another story. The average user may not be interested in all this decentralization talk. Still, how much do people value privacy over convenience? Can tokenomics solve the privacy vs. convenience dilemma?

Holon Global Investments' Jonathan Hooker tells us that human internet behavior will change. “Do you own Bitcoin?” he asks in his Web3 explanation. How does it feel to own and control your own sovereign wealth? Then:

“What if you could own and control your data like Bitcoin?”

“The business model must find what that person values,” he says. Putting their own health records on centralized systems they don't control?

“How vital are those medical records to that person at a critical time anywhere in the world? Filecoin and IPFS can help.”

Web3 adoption depends on NFT storage competition. A free off-chain storage of NFT metadata and assets was launched by Filecoin in April 2021.

Denationalization and blockchain technology have significant implications for data ownership and compensation for lending, staking, and using data. 

Tokenomics can change human behavior, but many people simply sign into Web2 apps using a Facebook API without hesitation. Our data is already owned by Google, Baidu, Tencent, and Facebook (and its parent company Meta). Is it too late to recover?

Maybe. “Data is like fruit, it starts out fresh but ages,” he says. "Big Tech's data on us will expire."

Web3 founder Kris agrees with Hooker that “value for data is the issue, not privacy.” People accept losing their data privacy, so tokenize it. People readily give up data, so why not pay for it?

"Personalized data offering is valuable in personalization. “I will sell my social media data but not my health data.”

Purists and mass consumer adoption struggle with key management.

Others question data tokenomics' optimism. While acknowledging its potential, Box founder Aaron Levie questioned the viability of Web3 models in a Tweet thread:

“Why? Because data almost always works in an app. A product and APIs that moved quickly to build value and trust over time.”

Levie contends that tokenomics may complicate matters. In addition to community governance and tokenomics, Web3 ideals likely add a new negotiation vector.

“These are hard problems about human coordination, not software or blockchains,”. Using a Facebook API is simple. The business model and user interface are crucial.

For example, the crypto faithful have a common misconception about logging into Web3. It goes like this: Web 1 had usernames and passwords. Web 2 uses Google, Facebook, or Twitter APIs, while Web 3 uses your wallet. Pay with Ethereum on MetaMask, for example.

But Levie is correct. Blockchain key management is stressed in this meme. Even seasoned crypto enthusiasts have heart attacks, let alone newbies.

Web3 requires a better user experience, according to Kris, the company's founder. “How does a user recover keys?”

And at this point, no solution is likely to be completely decentralized. So Web3 key management can be improved. ”The moment someone loses control of their keys, Web3 ceases to exist.”

That leaves a major issue for Web3 purists. Put this one in the too-hard basket.

Is 2022 the Year of Web3?

Web3 must first solve a number of issues before it can be mainstreamed. It must be better and cheaper than Web2.5, or have other significant advantages.

Web3 aims for scalability without sacrificing decentralization protocols. But decentralization is difficult and centralized services are more convenient.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin himself stated recently"

This is why (centralized) Binance to Binance transactions trump Ethereum payments in some places because they don't have to be verified 12 times."

“I do think a lot of people care about decentralization, but they're not going to take decentralization if decentralization costs $8 per transaction,” he continued.

“Blockchains need to be affordable for people to use them in mainstream applications... Not for 2014 whales, but for today's users."

For now, scalability, tokenomics, mainstream adoption, and decentralization believers seem to be holding Web3 hostage.

Much like crypto's past.

But stay tuned.

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Jano le Roux

Jano le Roux

1 year ago

My Top 11 Tools For Building A Modern Startup, With A Free Plan

The best free tools are probably unknown to you.

Webflow

Modern startups are easy to build.

Start with free tools.

Let’s go.

Web development — Webflow

Code-free HTML, CSS, and JS.

Webflow isn't like Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify.

It's a super-fast no-code tool for professionals to construct complex, highly-responsive websites and landing pages.

Webflow can help you add animations like those on Apple's website to your own site.

I made the jump from WordPress a few years ago and it changed my life.

No damn plugins. No damn errors. No damn updates.

The best, you can get started on Webflow for free.

Data tracking — Airtable

Spreadsheet wings.

Airtable combines spreadsheet flexibility with database power without code.

  • Airtable is modern.

  • Airtable has modularity.

  • Scaling Airtable is simple.

Airtable, one of the most adaptable solutions on this list, is perfect for client data management.

Clients choose customized service packages. Airtable consolidates data so you can automate procedures like invoice management and focus on your strengths.

Airtable connects with so many tools that rarely creates headaches. Airtable scales when you do.

Airtable's flexibility makes it a potential backend database.

Design — Figma

Better, faster, easier user interface design.

Figma rocks!

  • It’s fast.

  • It's free.

  • It's adaptable

First, design in Figma.

Iterate.

Export development assets.

Figma lets you add more team members as your company grows to work on each iteration simultaneously.

Figma is web-based, so you don't need a powerful PC or Mac to start.

Task management — Trello

Unclock jobs.

Tacky and terrifying task management products abound. Trello isn’t.

Those that follow Marie Kondo will appreciate Trello.

  • Everything is clean.

  • Nothing is complicated.

  • Everything has a place.

Compared to other task management solutions, Trello is limited. And that’s good. Too many buttons lead to too many decisions lead to too many hours wasted.

Trello is a must for teamwork.

Domain email — Zoho

Free domain email hosting.

Professional email is essential for startups. People relied on monthly payments for too long. Nope.

Zoho offers 5 free professional emails.

It doesn't have Google's UI, but it works.

VPN — Proton VPN

Fast Swiss VPN protects your data and privacy.

Proton VPN is secure.

  • Proton doesn't record any data.

  • Proton is based in Switzerland.

Swiss privacy regulation is among the most strict in the world, therefore user data are protected. Switzerland isn't a 14 eye country.

Journalists and activists trust Proton to secure their identities while accessing and sharing information authoritarian governments don't want them to access.

Web host — Netlify

Free fast web hosting.

Netlify is a scalable platform that combines your favorite tools and APIs to develop high-performance sites, stores, and apps through GitHub.

Serverless functions and environment variables preserve API keys.

Netlify's free tier is unmissable.

  • 100GB of free monthly bandwidth.

  • Free 125k serverless operations per website each month.

Database — MongoDB

Create a fast, scalable database.

MongoDB is for small and large databases. It's a fast and inexpensive database.

  • Free for the first million reads.

  • Then, for each million reads, you must pay $0.10.

MongoDB's free plan has:

  • Encryption from end to end

  • Continual authentication

  • field-level client-side encryption

If you have a large database, you can easily connect MongoDB to Webflow to bypass CMS limits.

Automation — Zapier

Time-saving tip: automate repetitive chores.

Zapier simplifies life.

Zapier syncs and connects your favorite apps to do impossibly awesome things.

If your online store is connected to Zapier, a customer's purchase can trigger a number of automated actions, such as:

  1. The customer is being added to an email chain.

  2. Put the information in your Airtable.

  3. Send a pre-programmed postcard to the customer.

  4. Alexa, set the color of your smart lights to purple.

Zapier scales when you do.

Email & SMS marketing — Omnisend

Email and SMS marketing campaigns.

Omnisend

This is an excellent Mailchimp option for magical emails. Omnisend's processes simplify email automation.

I love the interface's cleanliness.

Omnisend's free tier includes web push notifications.

Send up to:

  • 500 emails per month

  • 60 maximum SMSs

  • 500 Web Push Maximum

Forms and surveys — Tally

Create flexible forms that people enjoy.

Typeform is clean but restricting. Sometimes you need to add many questions. Tally's needed sometimes.

Tally is flexible and cheaper than Typeform.

99% of Tally's features are free and unrestricted, including:

  • Unlimited forms

  • Countless submissions

  • Collect payments

  • File upload

Tally lets you examine what individuals contributed to forms before submitting them to see where they get stuck.

Airtable and Zapier connectors automate things further. If you pay, you can apply custom CSS to fit your brand.

See.

Free tools are the greatest.

Let's use them to launch a startup.

Pat Vieljeux

Pat Vieljeux

1 year ago

Your entrepreneurial experience can either be a beautiful adventure or a living hell with just one decision.

Choose.

Bakhrom Tursunov — Unsplash

DNA makes us distinct.

We act alike. Most people follow the same road, ignoring differences. We remain quiet about our uniqueness for fear of exclusion (family, social background, religion). We live a more or less imposed life.

Off the beaten path, we stand out from the others. We obey without realizing we're sewing a shroud. We're told to do as everyone else and spend 40 years dreaming of a golden retirement and regretting not living.

“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.” - Shannon L. Alder

Others dare. Again, few are creative; most follow the example of those who establish a business for the sake of entrepreneurship. To live.

They pick a potential market and model their MVP on an existing solution. Most mimic others, alter a few things, appear to be original, and end up with bland products, adding to an already crowded market.

SaaS, PaaS, etc. followed suit. It's reduced pricing, profitability, and product lifespan.

As competitors become more aggressive, their profitability diminishes, making life horrible for them and their employees. They fail to innovate, cut costs, and close their company.

Few of them look happy and fulfilled.

How did they do it?

The answer is unsettlingly simple.

They are themselves.

  • They start their company, propelled at first by a passion or maybe a calling.

  • Then, at their own pace, they create it with the intention of resolving a dilemma.

  • They assess what others are doing and consider how they might improve it.

  • In contrast to them, they respond to it in their own way by adding a unique personal touch. Therefore, it is obvious.

Originals, like their DNA, can't be copied. Or if they are, they're poorly printed. Originals are unmatched. Artist-like. True collectors only buy Picasso paintings by the master, not forgeries, no matter how good.

Imaginative people are constantly ahead. Copycats fall behind unless they innovate. They watch their competition continuously. Their solution or product isn't sexy. They hope to cash in on their copied product by flooding the market.

They're mostly pirates. They're short-sighted, unlike creators.

Creators see further ahead and have no rivals. They use copiers to confirm a necessity. To maintain their individuality, creators avoid copying others. They find copying boring. It's boring. They oppose plagiarism.

It's thrilling and inspiring.

It will also make them more able to withstand their opponents' tension. Not to mention roadblocks. For creators, impediments are games.

Others fear it. They race against the clock and fear threats that could interrupt their momentum since they lack inventiveness and their product has a short life cycle.

Creators have time on their side. They're dedicated. Clearly. Passionate booksellers will have their own bookstore. Their passion shows in their book choices. Only the ones they love.

The copier wants to display as many as possible, including mediocre authors, and will cut costs. All this to dominate the market. They're digging their own grave.

The bookseller is just one example. I could give you tons of them.

Closing remarks

Entrepreneurs might follow others or be themselves. They risk exhaustion trying to predict what their followers will do.

It's true.

Life offers choices.

Being oneself or doing as others do, with the possibility of regretting not expressing our uniqueness and not having lived.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”. Oscar Wilde

The choice is yours.

Amelia Winger-Bearskin

Amelia Winger-Bearskin

1 year ago

Hate NFTs? I must break some awful news to you...

If you think NFTs are awful, check out the art market.

The fervor around NFTs has subsided in recent months due to the crypto market crash and the media's short attention span. They were all anyone could talk about earlier this spring. Last semester, when passions were high and field luminaries were discussing "slurp juices," I asked my students and students from over 20 other universities what they thought of NFTs.

According to many, NFTs were either tasteless pyramid schemes or a new way for artists to make money. NFTs contributed to the climate crisis and harmed the environment, but so did air travel, fast fashion, and smartphones. Some students complained that NFTs were cheap, tasteless, algorithmically generated schlock, but others asked how this was different from other art.

a digital Billboard showed during the 4th annual NFT.NYC conference, a four-day event that featured 1,500 speakers from the crypto and NFT space and hosted 14,000 attendees | Getty Images, Noam Galai / Contributor June 20th, 2022 in New York City Times Square

I'm not sure what I expected, but the intensity of students' reactions surprised me. They had strong, emotional opinions about a technology I'd always considered administrative. NFTs address ownership and accounting, like most crypto/blockchain projects.

Art markets can be irrational, arbitrary, and subject to the same scams and schemes as any market. And maybe a few shenanigans that are unique to the art world.

The Fairness Question

Fairness, a deflating moral currency, was the general sentiment (the less of it in circulation, the more ardently we clamor for it.) These students, almost all of whom are artists, complained to the mismatch between the quality of the work in some notable NFT collections and the excessive amounts these items were fetching on the market. They can sketch a Bored Ape or Lazy Lion in their sleep. Why should they buy ramen with school loans while certain swindlers get rich?

Long Beach, California the sign for the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT Themed Restaurant, Getty Images, Mario Tama / Staff April 9th 2022

I understand students. Art markets are unjust. They can be irrational, arbitrary, and governed by chance and circumstance, like any market. And art-world shenanigans.

Almost every mainstream critique leveled against NFTs applies just as easily to art markets

Over 50% of artworks in circulation are fake, say experts. Sincere art collectors and institutions are upset by the prevalence of fake goods on the market. Not everyone. Wealthy people and companies use art as investments. They can use cultural institutions like museums and galleries to increase the value of inherited art collections. People sometimes buy artworks and use family ties or connections to museums or other cultural taste-makers to hype the work in their collection, driving up the price and allowing them to sell for a profit. Money launderers can disguise capital flows by using market whims, hype, and fluctuating asset prices.

Almost every mainstream critique leveled against NFTs applies just as easily to art markets.

Art has always been this way. Edward Kienholz's 1989 print series satirized art markets. He stamped 395 identical pieces of paper from $1 to $395. Each piece was initially priced as indicated. Kienholz was joking about a strange feature of art markets: once the last print in a series sells for $395, all previous works are worth at least that much. The entire series is valued at its highest auction price. I don't know what a Kienholz print sells for today (inquire with the gallery), but it's more than $395.

I love Lee Lozano's 1969 "Real Money Piece." Lozano put cash in various denominations in a jar in her apartment and gave it to visitors. She wrote, "Offer guests coffee, diet pepsi, bourbon, half-and-half, ice water, grass, and money." "Offer real money as candy."

Lee Lozano kept track of who she gave money to, how much they took, if any, and how they reacted to the offer of free money without explanation. Diverse reactions. Some found it funny, others found it strange, and others didn't care. Lozano rarely says:

Apr 17 Keith Sonnier refused, later screws lid very tightly back on. Apr 27 Kaltenbach takes all the money out of the jar when I offer it, examines all the money & puts it all back in jar. Says he doesn’t need money now. Apr 28 David Parson refused, laughing. May 1 Warren C. Ingersoll refused. He got very upset about my “attitude towards money.” May 4 Keith Sonnier refused, but said he would take money if he needed it which he might in the near future. May 7 Dick Anderson barely glances at the money when I stick it under his nose and says “Oh no thanks, I intend to earn it on my own.” May 8 Billy Bryant Copley didn’t take any but then it was sort of spoiled because I had told him about this piece on the phone & he had time to think about it he said.

Smart Contracts (smart as in fair, not smart as in Blockchain)

Cornell University's Cheryl Finley has done a lot of research on secondary art markets. I first learned about her research when I met her at the University of Florida's Harn Museum, where she spoke about smart contracts (smart as in fair, not smart as in Blockchain) and new protocols that could help artists who are often left out of the economic benefits of their own work, including women and women of color.

Cheryl Finley on the right, with Hank Thomas and Dr. Deborah Willis attending the 2018 Aperture Gala at Ceder Lake on October 30th, 2018 in NYC, Photo by Patrick Mullan via Getty Images.

Her talk included findings from her ArtNet op-ed with Lauren van Haaften-Schick, Christian Reeder, and Amy Whitaker.

NFTs allow us to think about and hack on formal contractual relationships outside a system of laws that is currently not set up to service our community.

The ArtNet article The Recent Sale of Amy Sherald's ‘Welfare Queen' Symbolizes the Urgent Need for Resale Royalties and Economic Equity for Artists discussed Sherald's 2012 portrait of a regal woman in a purple dress wearing a sparkling crown and elegant set of pearls against a vibrant red background.

Amy Sherald sold "Welfare Queen" to Princeton professor Imani Perry. Sherald agreed to a payment plan to accommodate Perry's budget.

Amy Sherald rose to fame for her 2016 portrait of Michelle Obama and her full-length portrait of Breonna Taylor, one of the most famous works of the past decade.

As is common, Sherald's rising star drove up the price of her earlier works. Perry's "Welfare Queen" sold for $3.9 million in 2021.

Amy Sherald speaking about her work in front of her painting “Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance) | Getty Images
Raleigh News & Observer / Contributor May 2018

Imani Perry's early investment paid off big-time. Amy Sherald, whose work directly increased the painting's value and who was on an artist's shoestring budget when she agreed to sell "Welfare Queen" in 2012, did not see any of the 2021 auction money. Perry and the auction house got that money.

Sherald sold her Breonna Taylor portrait to the Smithsonian and Louisville's Speed Art Museum to fund a $1 million scholarship. This is a great example of what an artist can do for the community if they can amass wealth through their work.

NFTs haven't solved all of the art market's problems — fakes, money laundering, market manipulation — but they didn't create them. Blockchain and NFTs are credited with making these issues more transparent. More ideas emerge daily about what a smart contract should do for artists.

NFTs are a copyright solution. They allow us to hack formal contractual relationships outside a law system that doesn't serve our community.

Amy Sherald shows the good smart contracts can do (as in, well-considered, self-determined contracts, not necessarily blockchain contracts.) Giving back to our community, deciding where and how our work can be sold or displayed, and ensuring artists share in the equity of our work and the economy our labor creates.

Photo of Amy Sherald during New York Fashion Week attending Ulla Johnson at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Getty Images
Dominik Bindl / Stringer September 2021