You may know enough about NFT’s to know everyone is on to them. But what’s the real utility behind it all?
Firstly, NFT content does not actually sit on the blockchain. The artwork or music or video content is actually stored off-chain, most likely on an IPFS (InterPlanetary File System). The actual NFT is a document of ownership that links to the file content on IPFS.
A real world analogy to an NFT is like the title certificate to a house, or the deed to your car. It proves ownership. The blockchain is like the property titles office, or the dewey decimal card index at your local library. The IPFS is like a massive bank safe.
Here is one of the first known legal records of property title, from about 4200 years ago, the Manishtushu Obelisk.
Now, regarding the Manishtushu Obelisk, we have no idea how real this is or how correct the contractual information is. Did Manishtushu really own the land? Did he really intend to pass ownership to the people listed on the Obelisk? Did someone change the record?
4200 years later, we now have the concept of NFT's. The NFT ownership title cannot be faked on the blockchain, unlike corruption in the real world, or any political-industrial-military upheaval. This is becuase the blockchain is replicated amongst many nodes around the globe. To fake it, you have to fake every node in the world. Depending on when you read this article, Ethereum currently has between 3,000 to 12,000 nodes, constantly replicating and synchronising. In a decade it will be in the millions. This is impossible to fake.
The immutable link to the IPFS (the content) is there forever. The file on the IPFS also cannot be hacked or changed. You cannot change the JPEG of the art to another JPEG or the mp3 to another mp3 without someone knowing. Changes to the content are logged in the IPFS so everything can be audited.
(Some NFTs do not use IPFS so the content is not secure but that is another story)
Once you understand this you will understand why this changes everything.
The IPFS and the Blockchain are decentralised systems. What does this actually mean? It means you can have a nuclear war in half the world and there will always be a node online somewhere on earth available to retrieve the blockchain. There is no central computer server to bomb, nor anything that can be controlled or switched off by a large corporate or government.
The design of the internet started in 1969 as a project by ARPANET to do exactly that - to survive in the event of a nuclear holocaust. 50 years later, the Web3 crypto layer now builds on this foundation as a top layer to continue this concept with decentralised encrypted blockchains.
Humanity would have to be wiped out to ZERO for this to disappear and we are literally sent back to the stone age with no electricity and no computers to wipe out all blockchains and IPFS’s in the world.
Historical artifacts from Egypt or China or Rome or other ancient civilisations have saved only snippets of their culture, the rest have deteriorated because the medium of archival has been lost to time.
Considering the age of the earth (4.6 Billion years), 5000 years of recorded human history is not long, and we have already lost maybe 99% of records of "ancient" civilisations. For the first time in human history, we now have an archival method of information storage that can last for EONS as long as humanity is around.
Imagine in 20,000 years our descendants can view, interact with, and experience the content we currently consume, with exactly the same amount of clarity and definition as recorded in present time.
This time RIGHT NOW will be known as the real birth of human civilisation. Not 5000 years ago, not Manishtushu or his Obelisk - that will be forgotten and destroyed in 20,000 years, there will be no survivable records of any period before the invention of the blockchain.
You will be long dead by then, but your name and history will live in any NFT you have transacted with for the rest of human history.
If this doesn't give you shivers then check your pulse you may already be dead. Otherwise, what a time to be alive.