In April of this year, while working on the wood floors in my attic, I was listening to a podcast about NFTs, and I had what I thought was a cool idea: I’m going to make an NFT of my Twitter Thread about Irresponsible Ejaculation. Then I’m going to raffle it instead of auction it, so that anyone can have a chance to win. And I’m going to promote the raffle to women in particular, to encourage us to dip our toes into the world of crypto-currency, if we haven’t already.
So I sought out advice about how to do such a thing, wrote up a draft of a blog post to announce it, and then… I paused. I was having second thoughts.
I’m pretty sure that what I’ve written so far is going to bring up questions immediately, so I’m going to write this next section as a Q&A in anticipation of what you might be wondering. Let’s dive right in.
Some NFT Q&A To Get Started
Q. First of all, what in the heck is an NFT?
A. NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. Some things are fungible — if I have dollar bills and you have dollar bills, we can exchange them if we want and it doesn’t really matter because all dollar bills have the same value; they are fungible. Some things are non-fungible — if you have the original painting of the Mona Lisa, and I have a printed copy of the Mona Lisa, you should not exchange with me because our Mona Lisas do not have the same value; no matter how many prints I make of your original Mona Lisa painting, yours will still be one-of-a-kind. To my mind, one-of-a-kind is a better term. So if Non-Fungible is throwing you off, just mentally replace it with One-Of-A-Kind.
But that doesn’t really tell you what an NFT is. NFTs are a part of the crypto-currency world and they’ve been in the news recently. (If you haven’t seen any stories about NFTs, just you watch — now that you’ve read this, you’ll start seeing references to NFTs all over the place.) I first heard about them in January on Twitter, and then learned more from The Daily podcast episode about NFTs last April. I’m grabbing six paragraphs from that podcast transcript, so you can see how they describe NFTs:
“People start developing new ways to spend Bitcoin. People are sending it to each other instead of sending a Venmo payment or a PayPal payment. Some people are buying clothes with it. Some websites start accepting it as a form of payment. It becomes this viral phenomenon that people are very excited about.”
“And so as that’s happening, people are starting to create other different cryptocurrencies. Some of them are very serious, like Ethereum is a new one that pops up. But there are also joke coins. There’s a Dogecoin, which is like reference to this meme. There’s a Dentacoin, cryptocurrency for dentists. There’s Potcoin, which is the cryptocurrency for cannabis enthusiasts. There’s even Bitcoen, which is the Jewish crypto-token. So all of these start springing up. Most of them are worth absolutely nothing.
But then there’s this quieter movement building, of people who are using blockchains as a base technology to build lots of other things, things like tracking the rights to photography online. So like if you’re a photographer and you want to get credit and get paid, when your photos are used, you could attach that information to a blockchain, where it would be permanently and publicly available for people to see. Like, this photo belongs to Sabrina. This one belongs to Kevin. And when these photos get used, they get paid this much.”
“Yeah, it becomes a way to track the ownership and the ownership history of lots of different kinds of digital goods. And so one big moment for cryptocurrency comes when this other blockchain, Ethereum, allows you to create one of a kind goods, goods that can’t be exchanged for other goods. If you have a Bitcoin, it doesn’t really matter whether you have one Bitcoin or another Bitcoin. It’s all Bitcoin. But what Ethereum allows people to do is to say this is a one-of-a-kind asset. And it can’t be exchanged for any other asset. It is unique.”
“It’s like a deed to a house or a certificate of authenticity that you might get if you buy a rare antique or something. Ethereum allows you to kind of say this thing is mine and there’s only one of them. And I can track its ownership forever. And anyone can go on the internet and see that I own this thing. And this becomes known as the nonfungible token, or NFT.”
“And so basically, people are discovering this ability to create just one of something on the internet. Before this, things that were on the internet were just infinitely copyable. If you had a song or a photo, you could copy and paste that any number of times. And every copy would be exactly the same and totally indistinguishable from every other copy. But what the Ethereum blockchain allows people to do is to stamp these digital objects with sort of a certificate of authenticity to say this is the original of this item. And you can’t copy or fake the digital signature that is sort of attached to that item.”
If you get a chance to listen to the podcast (or read the transcript), I highly recommend it. It does a great job explaining, and gives helpful examples of NFTs that have been made and sold, and why people buy them or want to own them.
Q. Why are you interested in making an NFT?
A. When I learned about NFTs, the idea appealed to me immediately for a few reasons. First, I really love the idea from the creator aspect. I’m a creator myself, I make all sorts of content for people to consume — videos, essays, images, projects, etc.. And all that content I create ends up being digitized, and lives online, where it’s accessible for free. I want creators to get credit for their digital work. I think it’s really important. I want women especially to get credit for their digital work because they so often don’t.
Consider a platform like Pinterest. There are men who use Pinterest, but it’s well known that women use the platform in much higher numbers. And the content on the platform — the images and ideas — are discovered and placed there almost entirely by women, and originally created almost entirely by women. When I use Pinterest (it’s one of my favorite search engines and I value it as a tool so much), I typically have no idea who created the images I’m seeing. Who had the idea, who found the location or objects and styled the shot, who the photographer was, etc.. And if I click on the image, I might be able to find the creators, but there’s just as good a chance that I won’t be able to find the creators. Because anyone can download and pin any image.
So as someone who consumes Pinterest content, I know that creators aren’t getting the credit they should. But I’m also someone who creates content that lives on Pinterest (some of it put there by me, but most of it put there by others). According to the stats Pinterest shows me, my pins receive 4.6 million views each month. So again, as both a content consumer on Pinterest, and a content creator, I’m well aware that credit is rarely or ever given to creators.
To be clear, lots of money is being made by Pinterest and because of Pinterest. Companies pay money to advertise on Pinterest. And those ads are seen by lots of people. Why? Because of all the awesome content on Pinterest — when people are looking at the awesome content, they see the ads mixed in with other pins. And why is there so much awesome content on Pinterest? Because women created it and put it there.
So are those creators making money and getting credit when their awesome images and creations are pinned? Nope. Not at all. And it’s not just a Pinterest issue (I want to reiterate, I love Pinterest as a tool — both for saving images and for searching images — and I am very grateful we get to use it), this is true on Instagram and Facebook and Tiktok too.
There are indirect ways to monetize content, but the platforms don’t pay for the content directly, even though consuming the content is the main reason why people use the platforms. It’s a very odd thing when you think about it, and it makes me frustrated when I think about it too much. Women need to get credit and compensation for what they’ve created.
Second, I was interviewed for a podcast series about the history of mom-blogging and influencers, called Under the Influence, and one of the episodes mentioned that when looking up the wikipedia entry for blogging, you’ll see mom-blogging isn’t even mentioned. In 2005-2015, the heyday of blogging, young white guys were blogging about politics and tech and thought they were the whole blogging world. At the same time, millions of women (writers, creators, and blog readers) had built a hugely influential “mommy-blogging” world, which ended up having an outsize influence on how the social media industry would develop. Women, including “mommy bloggers”, are what made places like Instagram and Pinterest the deep treasure troves of content that they are.
Women drive the economy in large and small ways. Women control 80% of household spending. From where I stand, I can see women consistently create the most valuable content on the internet. I hate that we’re left out of the tech stories; that we’re ignored because we don’t fit the young-nerdy-guys-in-tech profile. The tech-related conversations almost always center around men and what they are doing. This really bothers me. No, that’s not strong enough. It really pisses me off. I HATE when people discount women and the contributions of women.
Since so much of the best content and art online is created by women, I really like the idea of women making NFTs of their work; of claiming and certifying their creations.
Q. Hold up. Isn’t crypto-currency mining a huge energy user and really bad for the environment?
A. Yes. But happily, not for long. Many (if not most) crypto-currency users have the same concerns about energy use as you or I have. And they are actively shifting the mining process to updated options that only take up the same amount of energy as any other typical internet activity. It’s forecasted that Ethereum will be fully energy-friendly in about a year. The exception to this progress is Bitcoin. Bitcoin is going to continue mining using old methods that are huge energy sucks.
To me, approaching this as a problem to solve makes the most sense. The crypto-currency world grows every day and I don’t believe it’s going away. Do you personally have to get involved with crypto-currencies or NFTs? No. You definitely don’t. But saying, “I don’t want to get involved because of the environmental impact” doesn’t actually help solve the energy issues; the crypto world will continue growing without you. It’s better to face the problem and support those who are working to improve energy use.
Q. Why a raffle instead of an auction?
A. With NFTs, auctions seem to be the most popular way to go if you want to sell them, but I think I want to do a raffle instead. I want women to feel comfortable getting into this space. Bidding on an auction will potentially exclude a lot of people who can’t beat the highest bid, but raffles are accessible to anyone. I have women in mind especially, I want them to dip their toes in crypto if they haven’t yet, to give this a try, and empower them to get more involved if they are interested. A simple raffle ticket is a good first step.
Back in 2006, when I started Design Mom, I could look at the backend data of my site, and knew there were lots of readers, but there were only a few comments on each post. It occurred to me that people needed to learn how to post a comment. Blogging was new, and it might sound strange now, but there was a learning curve to commenting back at the beginning. (What is that weird captcha thing? What should I say? Do I have to be clever? Do I have to use my real email address? Or my real name? If I comment, will every one see my private info?)
I was thinking about ways to encourage comments, and I came up with the idea of a blog giveaway. In fact, I created and hosted the first blog giveaway where you comment to enter. (Love giveaways? Hate them? You can blame me!) The whole goal of the giveaway was to give readers motivation to try commenting. And it worked. After the giveaway, comments on my posts rapidly increased as readers became more and more comfortable taking part in the conversation.
I’m thinking of the NFT raffle in the same way: It’s a good way for people to get involved in this space for the first time.
I’m no crypto-currency expert. I’m no NFT expert. But crypto-currency and NFTs are happening, and they are powerful, and women should be benefiting! I know I can try it, and in doing so, hopefully encourage other women (women who might not typically get involved) to create their own NFTs, or to learn about investing in crypto-currencies.
Q. Why are you hesitant to make and raffle the NFT?
A. A few reasons. The world of NFTs can be really weird. I completely understand the whole concept is absolutely bonkers and can be hard to wrap your head around. Why would you pay for something that is free and easily available online?
Plus, there are lots of stories of scams and corruption in the crypto/NFT world. And some people are really irritated by the whole idea of NFTs — every once in awhile I see tweets from people saying they are so bugged by the whole thing, that they will block anyone who mentions NFTs.
Additionally, I’m not actually a big NFT or crypto evangelist. If you’re not interested in the crypto/NFT world, I have no intention of pressuring you to get involved. When I think of women buying raffle tickets, I’m imagining they were already interested and curious, but weren’t sure how to take a first step.
Q. If you decide to do the NFT raffle, which Twitter thread are you talking about?
A. My very first Twitter thread, which is about irresponsible ejaculations and abortion. You can read it on Twitter. Or on my blog. Or an edited version on Medium. And yes, even if I make an NFT of the thread, you could continue to see it for free in all those places.
I’ve written lots of Twitter threads at this point, but I believe that one has had the most impact.
Q. Would the raffle be for the whole thread or just one tweet?
A. I’ve been thinking about this one, and I keep going back and forth. There are 64 tweets in the thread, so in theory, they could be raffled off individually, which would mean more people would get a chance to feel involved.
But, making an NFT isn’t free, and making 64 NFTs could be too expensive. And I think I prefer the whole thread staying together — it has more impact that way.
Q. What will you do with the raffle proceeds?
A. I want to give proceeds from the raffle to Pathfinder International which supports people everywhere having the right and opportunity to live a healthy reproductive life, and ties in to the accessible-birth-control-content of the thread. I also want to keep some of the proceeds as earnings. Why? Because women do not get paid enough for the content we create. It’s a long-standing problem. If we charge for our work at all, we don’t charge enough. What we create is valuable. We deserve to get paid.
I’m proud of my Twitter thread. It’s good. It’s remarkable. It has WORTH. How much worth? I have no idea. Maybe an NFT raffle will suggest some of the worth.
Q. How would I participate in the raffle?
A. The raffle would be run on a site called Opensea. This site provides the service of minting NFTs and auctioning them off. If I decide to move forward with the raffle, I’ll share instructions for entering.
Note: there are other services that mint NFTs. One is specifically created to mint Tweets — Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, used a service called Valuables by Cent to mint an NFT of his very first tweet. I thought about using their service, but Opensea has a raffle option and that aspect is important to me. Something to keep in mind: if a particular minting company goes under or dissolves, the NFTs it minted will likely disappear (unless they’ve been transferred elsewhere), and Opensea seems to be the most stable at the moment.
Q. Can I make an NFT too?
A. Yes! You can make an NFT of practically anything. A photograph. A video. A meme. An essay or column. And I hope you do! But be aware it’s not free to make one. The minting process comes with a fee, depending on the value of the crypto-currency you’re using.
Q. Okay, let’s say I buy an NFT, or win one in a raffle or at an auction. What can I do with it?
A. Well, you own it. Maybe you take pride in that. Maybe you think of it as an investment and you hold onto it and then sell it at a later date. You could think about it like the art collectors that we hear about — they have storage facilities full of art that is never looked at or displayed. They just want to own it because they personally perceive it has value, or because we as a society have collectively agreed it has value.
Now I Have Questions For You
I’ve tried to anticipate your questions and answer them above. (Have more questions that I didn’t answer? Ask them in the comments so I can answer those too.) But I also have questions for you:
What are your thoughts on NFTs? Are you interested in the concept? Bugged by the concept? Do you think it’s cool? Or silly?
What are your thoughts on my raffle idea? Would you do it if you were me?
Do you think the raffle would encourage women to look into crypto-currency and NFTs the way I hope it would? Do you think you would be interested in buying a raffle ticket?
Any other thoughts?
At the moment, I would say I’m still interested in raffle-ing off an NFT of my Twitter Thread. But maybe I should have done it 6 months ago when I first thought of it; maybe I missed the perfect window to do so. Or, maybe I’ll hear what you have to say and decide it’s a bad idea. I definitely have opinions on this and am curious about hearing yours.