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A Nudge Towards Intentional Appreciation

My Fifth Update For DAOpunks Cohort 4

Since 2021, I've read countless articles which discuss the benefits of blockchain for creators. This Forbes article, titled From The Attention Economy To The Creator Economy: A Paradigm Shift, notes that creators who have the capability to monetise the relationship with their community have become "micro-entrepreneurs" who give a cut to their chosen platform rather than the other way around.

Over the last century, we’ve complicated supply- and value chains to the extent we’ve almost forgotten there’s a creator behind the things and the content we consume. The Creator Economy is a digital and global version of a world we used to know—one where we support and celebrate digital artisans directly.

The 2021 Forbes article gives a brief mention of NFTs as one enabler of direct payments from fans to creators, and that is what I’ve chosen to muse on this week. Last week, I wrote about the fact that blockchain technology is still so early, and I decided to take the plunge by creating some collectible image posts here on Paragraph to capture some of the enthusiasm I’d seen from people responding to the Oregon landscape images online.

Well … apart from some much-appreciated comments from the ever-positive Marvel, it was a pretty 'meh' response. Each image post (yes, Marvel, these are NFTs but Paragraph calls them Collectibles) has had only a handful of views, so realistically I didn’t even generate enough audience attention to worry about how many people would collect one or two. None of the images were collected, despite the fact that the very low gas fee on Base was the only cost.

This may sound like a whinge … maybe it is; I had hoped to get some support from the DAOpunks community and/or my followers on various platforms which would signal that the time spent selecting and creating the posts would be worthwhile. Now I must accept that the photos just aren’t interesting or special enough to collect, but I also think this is indicative of a broader reluctance by those already in crypto to adopt practices which truly support the creators of music, images, video, and other art forms.

This cast by Jesse Pollack from Base, and the replies, gives the sense of what is possible, but I don’t think we’re there yet. I say this because since feeling all the feels about last week’s lack of engagement, I’ve realised I am part of the problem.

Here’s what I’m getting at: if you have a web3 wallet and a token balance, how willing are you to spend a minute and the equivalent of around a dollar minting an NFT simply to support the creator? I don’t mean financial support — not on a zero-cost mint; I mean as a signal that you enjoyed their creation and appreciate their effort. I think this is the leap that many are not yet making — the leap to supporting creation for its own sake.

Although I have collected Paragraph and Mirror posts that I find particularly well written, and minted NFT art that I really love, I’m definitely guilty of passive appreciation, particularly on work I simply like 'in passing'. It's similar to encountering a busker and thinking how great they sound but not pausing to leave a tip. I do this, and I usually try to avoid eye contact when I do. So this isn’t a complaint, because I get it.

There are many reasons why someone chooses to mint a particular NFT. Basic economic principles dictate that individuals often apply ‘what’s in it for me’ reasoning to decisions involving expenditure of time or money. Even paying for NFTs 'because you like them' is usually driven by the desire to acquire, more than the desire to convey appreciation.

Here lies the altruism aspect that I infer from Jesse Pollack's cast. To “grant” someone your onchain support as a gesture of encouragement, whether financially significant or not, is to suspend the need for a ‘return on investment’ and simply show up for their sake.

So this is a little nudge for me, to start intentionally communicating my appreciation. I don’t have endless funds, so I’m not going to mint everything, but I’m at least going to let the person know when I have enjoyed their work. So often it feels like we’re posting and creating into the void, but receiving a comment or knowing someone went to the effort of collecting the work makes it so much more rewarding.

If we want the paradigm shift to a creator-driven economy, we need to make a habit of supporting creators from the ground up. Blockchain empowers us to do this through direct micro-payments and/or onchain engagement but we have to take time away from riding the charts and speculating on airdrops to show that we care.


PS: A note on the accompanying image: It was pure chance to discover this mandala in the sand, which epitomised impermanence and yet gave me a memory that I can treasure for years to come. The creator/s were nowhere to be seen, but by sharing the image with you I hope to contribute to the widespread appreciation of their work.

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