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NFT NYC 2024 Recap! 📃

What's Hot in 2024 🔥

NFT NYC 2024 is over, and do you know what the best part was? It was putting a face and personal connection to the PFPs. This year was fun-filled: interesting panel discussions, side events, and novel project exhibits. I realize many were unable to attend, so I'll give you a few of the recurring topics/themes so you have some insights into where things are headed in 2024 and beyond.

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Blockchain Abstraction
This was probably the most used word of the week. Abstraction. We've come to a saturation point where we cannot onboard more people into Web3 unless the UI and UX are familiar. No clunky wallets, no bridging, and no overly complicated solutions to do things that should be simple like purchasing something. Bitcoin Spot ETFs are a perfect example of abstraction. While most of us in this space take buying Bitcoin for granted, it is not straightforward to most. Bitcoin ETFs simplify that: you go to the institution you usually transact with, and buy with fiat money already in your account, into something that is publicly traded much like a stock. It's simple and familiar. We need the same for everything onchain. Abstraction.

Real World Assets (RWAs)
This was another topic that came up frequently, particularly fashion. There's a real opportunity to blend the physical with digital twins. Provenance and authenticity for luxury goods are obvious, but there is also opportunity in fashion gamification and value return to the consumer. What the heck does that mean? Let's use an example to explain: imagine you're out with friends on a Friday night, and you get a push notification on your mobile from brand XYZ that if you're wearing their shoes right now, scan the NFC chip embedded in them within the next 10 minutes. Indeed, you are wearing those shoes, and you scan them to see what your surprise is. Voila! You just received $20 in your digital wallet to cover your next 2 drinks! Score! In this world, which shoes would you wear when you're out on a Friday or Saturday night? Those kinds of immediate, instant, trustless, and permissionless incentives can drive powerful behaviors and habits. There was a 9dcc pop-up; sadly, I could not attend because I was speaking at the conference during its operating hours, but the feedback was that it was very well executed.

Yes, I know music is brought up every year. And each year, it's disappointing because there's been little progress. The corporations in the industry have not budged. I can't say anything profoundly different has happened there yet, but there's a constituency of musicians (many of them who were present at NFT NYC) who have been able to find success without a dependency on major record labels or music streaming services. There was discussion around tokenizing music, but the conversation leaned away from how labels/distribution companies can adapt the blockchain and more towards how do musicians emulate the successful ones to succeed independently. This could be in the form of having membership token drops (on a gasless L2) with utility such as access to music, access to the musician, and more! We'll see in the coming months how much pressure this puts on the broader industry to embrace onchain innovation.

I'll be frank, I didn't care too much for meme culture in this space when I first entered it. I thought it was emblematic of a certain immaturity as long as it exists, the space will never reach mass adoption. This was the traditional straight-laced corporate American inside me. After much observation and reflection, it's with a great amount of humility I admit I was wrong. Memes are a connector of people in any stratosphere. They're culture. I've learned to not only embrace memes personally, but I would make the controversial argument they should be leveraged and utilized by most emerging brands regardless of industries. If you're starting your own beverage company to compete with the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, make it fun and whimsical so people remember it. As it applies to the blockchain, projects, whether they're a marketplace, a DeFi platform, or a cryptocurrency need to embrace memes to win attention and mind share. In talking to others at NFT NYC who have a background similar background as mine, we have all come to the same conclusion (albeit, we're a bit late).

Ah $DEGEN, and by extension, Farcaster/Warpcast, was the talk of the town. In case you aren't familiar, Farcaster is a decentralized social protocol, and Warpcast is the main client operating on it. You'll often see the two terms used interchangeably, but think of Farcaster as radio airwaves, and Warpcast as the radio. Functionally, Warpcast is similar to X/Twitter, but in the case of Farcaster, there isn't an Elon Musk or a single entity that can censor you on the protocol. It's been around for a couple years now, but it's seen runaway growth since the introduction of frames (which essentially allow crypto-related actions natively on the Warpcast client) and the $DEGEN token launch in January 2024. Contrary to popular belief, the $DEGEN token was not shipped by the Farcaster/Warpcast team, but rather a group of investors. The token straddles a fine line between a meme coin and a patron token. Its value has seen runaway growth from a fraction of a penny to 4 cents at the time of this writing. While the token's increase in value has brought a ton of interest and daily users to Farcaster, the real story here is a case study on how an entity can build permissionlessly on a decentralized social protocol like Farcaster. I would strongly recommend you pay attention to what is being built on Farcaster as it'll give you a glimpse on what a decentralized future will look like. If there's enough interest, I'll write a separate article (maybe even record a video) on Farcaster/Warpcast.

While I would say the attendance of NFT NYC was down this year compared to last, the sentiments were much more optimistic. Last year, there was an underlying tension and stress around the sustainability of the space (especially since royalties were being eliminated and prices were falling across the board), but this year it carried a different tone. Sure, prices were up, but that is only part of the story. The innovation was up. Ordinals have become mainstream, social graphs/analytics for wallets, and more. While meme coin culture is still strong, this year was less about PFPs with ambitious roadmaps and more about solving problems the blockchain is perfectly positioned for. The future is bright, my friends.

Until next time...

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