November 7, 2021

Introducing: Totally Exchangeable Tokens

NFTs are all the rage these days, but I’m here to tell you about the next big thing. But first, let’s talk about what’s wrong with NFTs.

NFTs – Non-Fungible Tokens – give you a way to secure ownership over a hyperlink to an image. That ownership is secured by its being stored in a ledger, and that ledger is decentralised and cryptographically secure. Now, that’s a really exciting prospect, but there are problems.

The dencentralised nature of the NFT scene causes some serious problems. First, NFT trading marketplaces have too much power, and have used that power to clamp down on innovative NFT acquisition strategies. Second, any blockchain technology is only as secure as it is active: if any one individual controls more than half of the computing power, they can manipulate the ledger at will. Both of these problems are caused by the decentralised nature of NFTs.

NFTs require an understanding of “crypto”, “hashing”, “blockchain” and other terms that sound like they’ve been plucked out of a bad 80s sci fi movie. Not everyone wants to buy in to the cult/ponzi scheme of cryptocurrency. But why should a minimal level of financial conservatism prevent you from owning a URL to an artwork?

This basis in the cryptocurrency ecosystem also means that these particular URLs to artworks are bafflingly energy-intensive; deliberately so, since the whole point is to require computers to solve complex computational tasks to keep the distributed ledger updated and secure.

Another problem with NFTs is that by their very nature only one person can own an NFT. This scarcity causes a problem: NFTs are expensive! I don’t want to pay good money for bad art! This very expensiveness causes other issues: since NFTs are worth so much there’s an incentive for people to attempt to steal them.

For these reasons, and the internet’s insatiable desire for novelty, I bring to you: the Totally Exchangeable Token. Here’s how to “mint” your very own Totally Exchangeable Token right now on your own computer with just basic tools you probably already have installed! There’s no middleman, no security issues, and almost no carbon footprint.

  1. Find the URL for a piece of art you like. Here’s one I found earlier: URL.
  2. Open up your text editor of choice and create a new file.
  3. Copy in the URL.
  4. On a separate line of the text file write a number, the larger the better (you can put it above or below the URL, the Totally Exchangeable Token protocol is flexible). This number is known as the “value” of the asset.
  5. Save the file using whatever file name you like, just remember to use the file extension .txt (for Totally eXchangeable Token).

And there you have it: your very own newly minted TXT. TXTs have a number of advantages over NFTs. As we have just seen, they are super easy to create with basic tools that any computer user can understand.

We have overcome the artificial scarcity problem by giving everyone the power to mint their own TXTs. You can literally own as many URLs to artworks as you like for little to no cost! This also has the added benefit of making them more secure: since they are effectively worthless (in real currency terms) there’s no incentive for anyone to steal them from you. Why steal a TXT when you can create your own?

You can make a TXT as cryptographically secure as you like, ideally by encrypting the file using a strong encryption method. Since this encryption is taking place on your own computer, there’s no possibility of a 51% attack.

One of the beauties of the TXT protocol is that each TXT comes with its own fake currency, and so each of your TXTs can be worth as much (or as little) as you want it to. TXT prices don’t fluctuate (unless you want them to) so you are effectively insulated from any potential near-future cryptocurrency collapse.

Since TXTs are stored locally on your computer, you have total control over them, and are not subject to any constraints or requirements imposed by third-part marketplaces: however you acquired your TXTs, you can sell them to anyone willing to buy them. And the incredible thing about TXT sales is that you can keep your own copy of the TXT after the sale. You can sell the same TXT as many times as you can find buyers!

And finally, there’s very little carbon footprint. The NFT ecosystem relies on a lot of computing power being used to keep the distributed ledger going. Once a TXT is minted, it just sits in your hard drive, consuming little to no power.

So if you’ve ever thought to yourself “I would love to own a URL to an artwork that is worth loads in a made up currency, but I don’t like the idea of participating in a massive ponzi scheme rife with securities fraud and money laundering” then sign up for the Totally Exchangeable Token revolution!

© Seamus Bradley 2021–3

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