My dude makes art.

When we go to the neighborhood open mic on Thorsdays, they pass the time drawing on the iPad. The pieces they produce are wildly abstract -- filled with color and texture and the fearlessness of youth. Each one is inspired by the music being performed. Lately they made a habit of showing the finished works to the musician who inspired them.

In the past we've printed the dude's work on t-shirts. One for them, one for me, and one for mom. This has been great, but it also feels limiting. Give how large of a role art plays here, it's clear to me that the tools of this place can enable their work to find a much greater audience. So how might they go about that?

Each piece of work can be represented by a token. As many tokens as they choose, actually. One for each of the years they've been alive. Or simply their favorite number. Or they could choose to offer each piece as what people here call 'an open edition' and place no limit on the number of tokens.

Once these choices are made, the next step is to describe the work. What ideas or feelings or experiences does the piece represent which can be put into words? Part of the task of putting any form of creative work into the world is to offer some set of memetics for one's audience to grasp, like APIs for emotional and intellectual connection. And given that these works are delivered to one's audience over the internet, these memetics can be quite important.

With the artist's statement complete, the last considerations regard the terms of collection. If someone is so moved as to collect one of the tokens associated with a piece of work, what is that collector receiving? It is up to the creator of the work to specify their preferences for its usage. As we covered last week, whatever commitments the creator encodes will be enforced throughout this place. However, given that this place inherits aspects of the web, and on the web screenshots are a thing, it's worth taking a quick sidebar to discuss the Mona Lisa.

Whenever a print or postcard or coffee mug is sold with a rendering of Da Vinci's infamous work, a number of things are happening. First, the collector of that rendition has obtained something with a degree of utility. They are able to display the print in their home or send the postcard to someone or take the mug to their local cafe.

Second, the purveyor of the rendition has benefited from the transaction. By purchasing the print or card or mug, the collector has transferred some value to the purveyor. Whether any of that value flows back to whomever holder of the rights to the Mona Lisa is an open question. If the print were purchased from an authorized purveyor, perhaps. If the mug were purchased from a second-hand shop, perhaps not.

Regardless of whether any value is realized by the rights holder, one very important thing happens: the cultural value of the work is enhanced. The Mona Lisa has, in some small way, become more noteworthy as a result of the transaction.

What is fascinating about this place is how tokens can clarify the relationships between original creators, the collectors of their works, and the purveyors in between. And how the tokenized work can be enhanced by the inescapable realities of today's internet.

If there is a single recommendation I will make to the dude, it is to be fearless about putting their work into this place. Because while the details of rights may always be imperfect, the token is extremely durable. Recall that whenever a token is created, collected, or otherwise exchanged, there is a record of that interaction. Given this fact, each new work the dude shares with the tools of this place acts as a reference back to them, the creator.

What is native to this place can live forever. Anything the dude creates here is like another LEGO piece in the project to build something which can outlast themselves.



There's a lot more to say about tokens. However there are other aspects of this place which need exploration, so with this we're gonna put tokens to bed for the time being. Next week something completely different

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