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NFT Sector Snapshot

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Shelly Palmer

Sales of NFTs have topped $2.5 billion since January 2021, and more than $2 billion has been invested in the sector this year. Here’s a quick overview of the NFT projects and transactions that have my attention, and a look at some emerging NFT trends.

NFTs Defined

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are unique digital assets built on blockchains that support smart contracts such as Ethereum, Polkadot, Solana, etc. To learn more about the technology and get a handle on the jargon, please visit our blockchain resource page.

NFTs are extremely simple to create. They have three important attributes: (1) They can represent any type of digital file, including websites, art, music, signatures, certificates, diplomas, patents, real estate, and even physical properties in the real world. (2) Because NFTs are smart contracts, future actions (such as distribution of funds) can be programmed to happen automatically when terms and conditions are met. (3) Because they are written to a blockchain, proof of ownership is (theoretically) guaranteed.

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Tales from under the Merkle Tree

Crypto MAY 9, 2021 BY SHELLY PALMER

BY SHELLY PALMER -

As she approached the entrance to the club, she gave the frame of her new prescription AR glasses a gentle squeeze. When she got to the door, it appeared to turn green, indicating recognition that she was over 21 years of age. Then, a message appeared along with a friendly voice asking for the 5 ADA cover charge. She shook her head yes. A moment later, the door opened, which indicated that the transaction had cleared. And so begins a story about life in a trustless, decentralized world − a tale from under the Merkle tree.

Crypto

Ralph C. Merkle is one of the inventors of public-key cryptography, the cryptographic system that enables secure online transactions for banking, ecommerce, and the like. As world-changing as that invention was, his work on the cryptographic hash function and the security and efficiency of his eponymous Merkle tree are even more impressive. If you haven’t guessed by now, the “crypto” in cryptocurrency is, in part, courtesy of the cryptographic hash function and Merkle trees. Merkle trees put the “fun” in fungible and nonfungible tokens, make the blocks on a blockchain unique, and ensure that smart contracts don’t get outsmarted.

A Decentralized World

But we’re just getting started. Those who have stood on Ralph Merkle’s shoulders are about to usher in an era of individualism, privacy, and personal control that we have not seen since… um… ever.

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