NFT Canon

Sonal ChokshiChris DixonDenis NazarovJesse WaldenLinda Xie

The NFT Canon is a go-to resource for artists and creators, developers, corporations and institutions, communities, and other organizations seeking to understand or do more with non-fungible tokens.

It’s a curated list of readings and resources on all things NFTs (inspired by the a16z Crypto Canon), and is organized from the big picture of what NFTs are and why they matter to how to create, collect, build on top of and with them — including FAQs, ecosystem overviews, and various applications such as art, music, gaming, DAOs, social tokens, community tokens, and others.

We will continue to update this as more people try out new things, share their work, or publish resources for learning about NFTs. [If you have suggestions for quality pieces to add, please let @smc90 know.]

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The Big Picture & Key Concepts

Life Is Non-fungible: The Evolution of Ownership, Assets, and Us  — ownership is deeply human; collectibles for self-expression, identity, money, trade
by Roham Gharegozlou

NFTs and a Thousand True Fans — evolution of the internet and better economics for creators
by Chris Dixon

Stories, Scarcity, and Mimetic Desire — how NFTs turn millions of stories into scarce assets
by Nick Tomaino

NFTs invert the ownership model of media — offering creators, their audiences, and developers who build for them a viable alternative to platform-driven monetization
by Jesse Walden

NFT subculture — properties of disruptive subcultures
by Denis Nazarov

Creators, communities, and the gray space in the middle where they meet — the next evolution of communities (belonging and stakeholders); how creators can create their own markets; programmable art
by Nichanan Kesonpat

Proof of passion — connecting the history of the social internet to NFTs today
by Tal Shachar and Jonathan Glick

Crypto changes value, NFTs change society — how NFTs change internet, work, economics, business models
by Andrew Steinwold

Crypto fundamentals and NFTs — eras of the web, blockchain architecture, last decade in crypto;
rise of NFTs, future of NFTs
by Patrick Rivera
[link to presentation in Google Slides]

Beginners Guides and Explainers

A beginner’s guide to NFTs — what they are, why they’re interesting, applications
by Linda Xie

What is an NFT? — properties of blockchain-based non-fungible tokens
by Devin Finzer

All about NFTs — the what, why, and how of NFTs, their applications, and process as well as common questions & misconceptions
by Jesse Walden, Linda Xie, Sonal Chokshi

8 Reasons why crypto art > art — and the new economy of digital creativity
by Scott Belsky

Demystifying NFTs — ‘monetized memes’, NFTs tokenize all the things, authenticate the world
by Naval Ravikant

What Critics Don’t Understand About NFTs — the paradox of certain digital goods; NFTs’ value don’t convey anything resembling traditional ownership
by Jonathan Zittrain with Will Marks

NFTs, the trend — overview, projects, players, lessons, haters, opportunities
by Dru Riley

The new magic of NFTs — the cases, the elements of crypto, and how it’s about so much more
Katie Haun interviewed by Tim Ferriss

by Saturday Night Live

Technical Foundations

NFT metadata — on-chain, off-chain, storage, more
by Devin Finzer

Do You Really Own Your NFT? — data storage, URLs vs IPFS, off-chain, more
by Dan Kahan

Non-fungible token standards — from Ethereum to non-Ethereum standards
by Devin Finzer

What is ERC-721? — non-technical explanation of how the original standard powering NFTs on blockchains works
by William Entriken

ERC-721 Non-Fungible Token Standard — powering unique, rare, collectible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain

NFT standards wishlist — from royalties to splits
by Sean Bonner

Building with NFTs: Creator Economies, Communities, Tokens, DAOs

Crypto Wants to Be Seen — experiencing crypto in ways that enable creators to master it and be immersed in core concepts
by Kayvon Tehranian

The Creator Economy: NFTs and beyond — how musicians, artists, and writers can think about NFTs and social tokens; how different types of assets can interact to create models that haven’t existed before
by Kevin Chou, Jesse Walden, Chris Dixon

Ideas for building in NFTs — community as art, more [thread]
by Dylan Field

On NFT consumption, audience, utility — third-party consumption experiences and what’s needed
by Jarrod Dicker, Tal Shacher, Jonathan Glick

On cryptocurrencies as content, communities, digital belonging
by Kyle Chayka

Analyzing NFTs as Social Networks Using the Status-as-a-Service Framework
by Packy McCormick

Come for the creator, stay for the economy — decentralized protocols aren’t social networks, they’re cryptoeconomic networks; milestones for phases
by Patrick Rivera

Power to the person — The creator economy, NFTs, and the rise of the solo corporation
by Packy McCormick

Social tokens — a broad category of tokens issued by individuals and communities
by Linda Xie

Individual before community: Why creator tokens will precede community tokens
by Alex Masmej

The fractionalization of NFTs will lead to better social tokens — objects, communities, more
by Brian Flynn

Loyalty Points and Social Tokens — social not just financial incentives in designing transactional communities of social tokens users
by Wong Joon Ian

Social Tokens Year in Review (2020) — digital assets backed by reputation of individual, brand, or community
by Cooper Turley with Jess Sloss, James Young, Scott Moore, Brian Flynn, and Priyanka Desai

A beginner’s guide to DAOs — with examples of NFT collectives for art, gaming, more
by Linda Xie

A prehistory of DAOs — cooperatives, gaming guilds, and the networks to come
by Kei Kreutler

On creator DAOs — how is this different from crowdfunding or membership platforms? the main difference is the notion of ownership
by Jonathan Glick, Jarrod Dicker, Tal Schachar

Community DAOs — what makes a DAO a DAO, growing them, more
by Patrick Rivera

The DAO of DAOs — from NFTs to DAOs; progressive decentralization; why DAOs, now and next
by Packy McCormick

Protocols and creator DAOs — analogy of cities and settlements for economic flows and cultural products around meme, message, protocols
by Jonathan Glick, Jarrod Dicker, Tal Schachar, Brian Flynn

Creator Journeys & Stories

Tips for Creators Getting Into Crypto
by Patrick Rivera

How I Got Into NFTs — “at first, I gave absolutely zero fucks about NFTs OR blockchain OR cryptocurrency in general. I didn’t understand it, didn’t really have the time and energy to understand it, and I just didn’t care”
by Caroline Dy

How We Sold an NFT… — step-by-step video walkthrough of what and how, from brainstorming, designing, and selling to setup, minting, and more
by Colin and Samir 

Two artists on crypto art — on galleries to tokenized collectibles
by Pak, Signe Pierce, Zoran Basich

NFTs, digital art, and the value shift between IRL and virtual life
Trevor McFedries interviewed by Dan Frommer

Why I’m Collecting Black Crypto Art — on spurring a Black Digital Renaissance that could create and capture value for Black communities
by Cuy Sheffield

How the blockchain broke the auction block — how is a Beeple JPEG worth $69 million?
by Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi and Mary Childs

Understanding NFTs as digital abstraction — view from traditional art world, Christie’s auction lead
Noah Davis interviewed by Valentina Di Liscia

What NFTs mean for contemporary art — artist talks with MoMA curator about recent trends and where immaterial art is taking us in a material world
Seth Price interviewed by Michelle Kuo

What makes a museum object NFT valuable beyond the scope of the technology?
by Frances Liddell

Why museums should be thinking longer term about NFTs
by Jason Bailey

“The Greatest NFT Film Ever Made” creators share views on NFTs, properties, platforms, scaling, exhibitions, more across art, music, fashion, defi, the metaverse
The Defiant

Forefront Profiles — communities and social tokens creators

Artists on NFTs and more

Artists on collecting NFTs
by Samantha Ayson

Applications & Experiments: Arts, Music, Games, More

Monetization for Gamers in the New Cryptoeconomy — how blockchain technology realigns economic relationships, collaboration, community, and creativity
by Kevin Chou

Community economics and the limits of today’s game economies — on the economic activity inside and outside virtual game worlds like Animal Crossing
by Kaiser Hwang [also at]

“Fantasy Hollywood”: Crypto and Community-Owned Characters — how DAOs and NFTs enable a new model for bringing new characters into the world
by Cuy Sheffield

Musicians meet audio NFTs — an overview of audio NFTs, limited edition audio/visuals experiences issued and sold as tokens on Ethereum
by Cooper Turley

The relationship between visual art and music
Devendra Banhart interviewed by Samantha Ayson

Creators, Artists, and Athletes — messaging creator coins to fans in videos
by Kurt Patat

What is crypto art 
by Jason Bailey

Generative art and NFTs
by Brian Droitcour

Exploring the world of generative art — what it is, a brief history of generative crypto art, more
by William Peaster

Where crypto meets the metaverse — without the assumption of a robust economic membrane, the entire concept of the metaverse quickly collapses
by Piers Kicks

Where Web3 meets the metaverse — NFTs & digital ownership, open vs. closed metaverse, “Direct-to Avatar Economy”, value chain of the open metaverse
by Packy McCormick

The Great Online Game — on the internet as an infinite, abundant game, imitating but beyond video games, including NFTs as ways to express oneself online to signal who you are and what you care about
by Packy McCormick

Gamers want virtual goods with real-world value — survey from Vorhaus
by Dean Takahashi

NFTs are becoming a major source of income for crypto newbies in the Philippines to Colombia — from Axie Infinity to Yield Guild Games and beyond
by Dan Kahan

Play-to-Earn, NFT gaming in the Philippines
by Yield Guild Games

Axie Infinity, Yield Guild Games, & the play-to-earn economy
by Justin Mart, Connor Dempsey, Hassan Ahmed

Why Bored Ape Avatars Are Taking Over Twitter — each avatar club is a combination of gated online community, stock-shareholding group, and art-appreciation society
by Kyle Chayka

A brief guide to Loot, the NFT project that’s surged onto the scene
by William Peaster

The Loot project flips the script on NFTs — what it is, why is this interesting
by Kyle Russell

Loot is a viral social network that looks like nothing you’ve ever seen — Dom Hoffman on on creating an open-source, decentralized game / financial asset / art project / metaverse (?)
by Casey Newton

The Most Important Scarce Resource is Legitimacy – on NFTs as public goods funding
by Vitalik Buterin

“Post-Venture” Capital and the Crypto Nobel Prize
by Matt Stephenson

NFT Ecosystem, Markets, and FAQs

Ecosystem overview — marketplaces; art, collectibles, games, virtual worlds; finance & trading
by Andrew Steinwold

Where do NFTs capture value? — the NFT stack, breaking down the various layers, honing in on curation
by Cooper Turley

The non-fungible token market — market size & growth (2019-2020), sale mechanisms, distribution
by Devin Finzer

Check My NFT — do you know how your NFT assets are stored?

How to display crypto art — showcase sites, digital displays, metaverse galleries
by William Peaster

How to use NFT furniture — collect, display; where, how
by Gabriella Fuller 

How the CryptoPunks took physical form to participate in their first gallery show — paper wallets and a physical model for digital ownership

NFTs: A Legal Guide for Creators and Collectors — primer on just some of the considerations in the United States
by Amy Luo

Rankings, Glossaries, Other Resources




spreadsheet comparing NFT platforms

Crypto Glossary: Cryptocurrencies & Blockchains — key concepts and terms to know that relate to NFTs (cryptography, proof of stake, more)
by Alex Pruden and Sonal Chokshi

language & terminology — among NFT community online, a thread

The Forefront Newsletter — weekly digest of developments in social tokens, NFTs, DAOs

Zima Red — newsletter on NFTs, virtual worlds, blockchain games

History: Origins; Earlier and Other Forms of Crypto Art, Collectibles, & Games

Crypto trading cards (1993) — idea to promote digital cash
Hal Finney

Colored coins (2012) — earliest NFT project (tracking origin of a given bitcoin to distinguish it from the rest so it can have special properties or value for various applications)
by Yoni Assia, Vitalik Buterin, Lior Hakim, Meni Rosenfeld
web pdf

History of NFTs — from and before CryptoKitties onwards, games, and other experiments
by Devin Finzer

Rare Pepe (2017) — digital trading cards
by Fred Wilson

Skin-in-the-game coins (2018) — reputation mining, token-curated registries, early utility tokens
by Ryan Selkis

Will cryptocurrencies be the art market’s next big thing? (2018)
by Scott Reyburn

Smart media tokens (2017)
from Steemit

Digital collectibles and the weird future of “digibles”
by Josh Stark

How to code your own cryptokitties-style game on Ethereum (2017)
by James Martin Duffy

Acknowledgements: Thanks also to Guy Wuollet and Carra Wu for their additions above as well

image: Mona LisaCreative Commons 4.0; changes made by Greg Truesdell per Sonal Chokshi

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