Probably the most exciting and almost visceral experience web3 gives you is true digital ownership. “True” in the sense that the assets that you own on the blockchain, you own directly without any intermediaries. There is no bank or platform holding your asset for you. We touched on ownership when it pertains to your identity in the previous post, and today we’re going to take a look at on-chain assets. There are multiple use cases around digital assets, but for this first journey, we’re going to take a look at different types of NFTs and learn how we can navigate the trove of information that blockchain offers about all these assets.
You have probably at least heard the term NFT in the last couple of years. An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a digital asset that represents ownership of a unique item.
The NFT craze of 2021-2022 has created the image of NFTs as highly volatile and expensive speculative assets for most people, and it’s part of that space, but there are many other applications of NFT technology. Uniqueness allows NFTs to represent a wide variety of digital assets, including digital art, collectibles, virtual real estate, in-game items, and even digital representations of physical objects.
For creators, NFTs provide new ways to monetize their work. Artists retain more control over their creations and earn revenue without relying on intermediaries like galleries and record labels.
For collectors, NFTs offer a new way to invest in and showcase their digital collections. Collectors can prove the authenticity and ownership of their digital assets on the blockchain, they can also trade the items with much less friction.
In gaming, NFTs can be used to represent unique in-game items or characters. Overall, there are many more new use cases being developed, and no matter if either art, collecting, or gaming is your cup of tea, it’s worth it to get your hands on a few free NFT-related tools and projects and to get the experience of owning a digital asset.
POAP stands for Proof of Attendance Protocol. POAP allows users to create and collect unique digital badges, POAPs, as proof of their attendance at specific events or participation in certain online activities. Some compare these POAPs to “digital magnets for the fridge.”
Event organizers or creators issue POAP tokens for a specific event, and attendees can claim these tokens using their Ethereum wallets for free. POAPs are non-fungible tokens (NFTs). They are unique and thus provide an authentic record of attendance or participation.
Collecting POAPs is a fun and engaging way for the community to show their involvement. Additionally, POAPs can potentially (if the creator chooses to) act as access passes to exclusive content or future events, offering more value to their holders.
You can get POAP app for free and start claiming your POAPs at crypto events. And next time you are organizing an in-person or an online event, you can create a free POAP drop for all the participants to claim as a memento. Some people even create POAPs to commemorate you meeting them at an event.
Since the NFT market is currently in a down cycle, there is less speculation, but major brands are still interested in exploring this innovative technology and ways it can change loyalty programs, customer engagement, and community building. Every now and then, big brands launch their NFT programs. More often than not, they do it with a free drop (Mastercard just did one). And while there isn’t usually a big hype around these drops, it may pay off to be an early adopter and stick around if you like the brand. So, keep your eyes open for more of these free drops from brands.
If you love Reddit, you have heard about their Digital Collectibles. Reddit wrapped its NFT program into a safe-looking game (such transitional use cases are often called web2.5, as it’s somewhat in between the web2 and web3, but we’re not going to be very strict, after all, it’s free). Reddit launched its Digital Collectibles program in July of 2022, and since then, almost 10 million accounts have claimed their avatars. Reddit weaved the NFTs with the “karma” reputation system already existing on the platform. Early on, some of the rarest tokens were given to Reddit users with the highest amounts of “karma.” There is a lively secondary market for these collectibles, and the avatars continue gaining popularity in the community despite the lower prices. Moreover, other brands now create partnerships with Reddit and do branded avatar drops for the users. For example, you may still be able to mint a Ubisoft Rabbid avatar into your Reddit vault. Of course, for free!
SheFi is a web3 educational community that supports women and non-binary folks (if you fit that description, consider applying for the next cohort). Every SheFi member (who applied, was officially accepted into a cohort, and completed the course) can mint an address-bound Robo Nova. Some of the traits of the character are permanent, and some can be upgraded as the member contributes to SheFi.
Starbucks Odyssey is the coffee giant’s new iteration of its loyalty program. It’s still in beta, but you can sign up for the waitlist. They slowly bring people in. Some of the NFTs in the collection are for purchase, others you can earn by completing tasks that familiarize you with the company and its coffee-making process.
Blockchain technology opens has the potential to empower artists by providing the opportunity to bypass the traditional middlemen and gatekeepers by allowing them to create a direct relationship with their community and collect royalties directly and in real time.
Audius (“web3 Spotify”) is a streaming platform that empowers all musicians to monetize their work. The platform has been around since 2018, and has, over time, attracted such performers as Deadmau5, Katy Pery, Nas, Steve Aoki, The Chainsmokers, and 3LAU. You can sign up for free!
Audius allows artists to upload their music directly to the platform and retain full control over their content. Fans discover and stream music for free, and artists earn revenue based on the popularity of their tracks.
Sound.xyz facilitates the use of music NFTs for community building among the artists’ fans. It aims to provide a new way of being a music collector and patron. As well as a new way of sustaining a career for the artists rooted in a very direct relationship with the audience. Among the musicians on the platform are Snoop Dogg, Pussy Riot, and San Holo. You can mint an (almost) free NFT to get early access to the Sound.xyz mobile app or just use the web browser access for free.
Is a creative engine for generative art and music. It includes the no-code generative builder and an NFT mint production tools (smart contracts and minting pages) - all available for free. All you will need to do is log in with your self-custodial wallet, upload your assets, and start generating art and music.
One of the beautiful (and tricky) things about blockchain is that it’s transparent, it’s an open database.
There are some privacy tools that exist currently, and you, of course, can stay anonymous, but you should be mindful of the fact that any transaction on the chain is public and can be traced to you unless you take specific steps to conceal your identity. By the way, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the desire to stay private. Yet, blockchain is a public ledger, and it being such is a feature, not a bug. This allows users to analyze and track the life on the chain.
Blockchain explorers (aka block explorers) allow you to scan a blockchain, view transactions as they occur, and get transaction details. Block explorers can also allow you to interact with smart contracts directly without engaging the dApps, but that’s for another day.
You (and anyone else) can search and explore the Ethereum blockchain for transactions, tokens, addresses, and other activities. You can spy on any wallet (actually, you can follow wallets on Zerion), you can watch the activity of any NFT collection, or token, and you can verify that any given transaction took place. Here are some tips on how to use Etherscan.
Both Rarity.tools and Raritysniper were developed in the hights of the NFT boom and are meant to help NFT collectors identify the relative value of items based on the data pertaining to rarity. It’s a fun way to look at NFT collections and find out why certain traits are sought after by collectors.
Dune analytics is a community-driven tool that makes it easy for users to accumulate and visualize blockchain data as charts and graphs. Dashboards can be created by the users and can track anything and everything on-chain. You poke around and learn about what’s happening in the world of crypto by clicking the “discover” button or searching for specific data in the search bar.
Bello is another analytics tool tailored specifically to empower web3 creators to use onchain data to grow and monetize their communities. It’s a no-code app with intuitive dashboards, that help creators grow their community, reach their collectors, and monetize their work.
Something that you will get very familiar with in the web3 world is the network fees - called gas.
For each interaction with the blockchain, you pay gas fees for using the network and its computational power. Gas fees go to validators, who secure the decentralized network and validate transactions. These fees are priced in fractions of Ether (ETH), called gwei.
Gas fees are not fixed. They are determined by supply and demand dynamics. When network congestion is high, gas fees can increase as users compete to have their transactions processed.
Ethereum is implementing improvements and scaling solutions to address the issue of high gas fees, but high transaction fees remain an issue. Gas fees can vary depending on network congestion, and it may be more cost-effective to perform transactions during periods of lower activity (like Friday night).
Blocknative Gas Estimator tool provides real-time gas fee estimates for the Ethereum and Polygon blockchains. You can keep an eye on the activity and prepare for the best time to transact.
GasHawk is another free-to-use tool to help you save on gas fees. It acts as a buffer for your non-urgent transactions. Once you submit a transaction, GasHawk holds it, and later, when the gas prices are low, it forwards it to the network.
For this one, you get bonus points! Flashbots RPC can be a very useful tool during times of high gas prices and volatility, but when you cannot wait it out to complete your transaction.
Gas wars. Thousands of people are submitting transactions at the same time usually during popular mints, airdrops, or sudden market volatility. People try to outbid each other to get their transactions in, and the gas price goes up. The network gets congested, and it can happen that between the moment that you submit a transaction and the time validators get it in, the price spikes, and the gas fee that you have submitted is no longer enough. Your transaction fails, and your gas fee is lost.
Flashbots Protect RPC protects you from losing gas on failed transactions. If you use Flashbots RPC network to submit your transaction, you simply don’t pay if it doesn’t get through. Here’s a tutorial on how to add this network to your Metamask wallet.
You have now explored a few NFT use cases, learned the basics of blockchain snooping, and even gained some secret gas knowledge. We hope you have enjoyed this journey, and now that you have experienced true digital ownership, you are ready for your next web3 adventures. Stay tuned for more WebFree posts!