Italian TV spread misinformation about NFTs in prime time
I haven't watched Italian television for many years, but this week I came across a report on Striscia la Notizia by Marco Camisani Calzolari that talks about NFT.
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This week's newsletter is looking to go in depth to better understand:
Defending against misinformation
The importance to go deeply about informations
Understanding the project that changed art history
[reading time: 10 minutes]
I decided to use an NFT work from a different artists as the cover of each newsletter, this week the cover is a Fidenza number #938 by Tyler Hobbs, the work that changed the history of modern art as we know it.
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Art is in the eye of the beholder
I would like to begin this newsletter with a cliched phrase that in today's context takes on its true meaning more than ever. Let me explain myself better.
I haven't watched Italian television for many years, but this week I came across a report on Striscia la Notizia by Marco Camisani Calzolari that talks about NFT. My curiosity and desire to combat my confirmation bias that Italian generalist television manipulates information led me to watch it.
I invite you to pause the newsletter and watch the video by clicking on the image above 👆
Yeah, I know, it is in italian :( but I suggest you watch it because the images and texts decently explain the purpose of the service.
The news report, which I take only as a pretext for later talking about art, talks about NFTs for about 4 minutes, including:
An introduction of exactly 10 seconds on what NFTs are.
4 minutes and 40 seconds or so on the risks, dangers, assertions and defamations.
And finally, exactly 10 seconds praise the technology.
Seems a little unbalanced don't you think?
It is clear that Marco Camisani Calzolari, the journalist, doesn't care much about NFT, and even less about art, and doesn't care to understand them in depth. The only purpose of the service seems to be: "To save the Italians from the latest presumed scam". It doesn't matter if in 4 minutes of television service inaccuracies and unverified defamatory statements are said, which we will see in a moment, the important thing is to warn the Italians and put fear in them.
The strategy is pretty much always the same:
Describe a new technology as extremely difficult and complex.
Make the listener believe that it is dangerous, risky and a criminal's game.
Implicitly convey the message that it is better to stay away from it and stay safe where you are now.
This communication, almost uniform in the mainstream media, with the exception of a few programs and journalists, in the last 10 years has resulted in Italians missing the opportunity to invest in the most profitable asset in human history, Bitcoin.
While for years it has been repeated that Bitcoin is used by criminals, that it is not safe, the inventor is an anonymous stranger that nobody knows, it has no intrinsic value, etc. etc., the Italians slept soundly with their money deposited in Monte dei Paschi di Siena
Any analysis presented reflects the author's views only and does not represent financial advice.
Explaining NFT, and in other words what digital property means, is complex and that is what I have been trying to do for a few months with this newsletter. It is difficult to fully understand the potential and the implications of this new technology for us, try to imagine explaining NFT to the boomers who watches Striscia la Notizia (one of the most famous Italian television show) For sure it's a challenging task, I don't doubt it, but to shift the balance only on risks, dangers, frauds and illegal activities instead of opportunities, future and prosperity is not fair.
The journalist, in a highly surprised tone, pronounces the sentence: "This image was sold for 10 million euros", suggesting that the person who bought it is a stupid billionaire (or a clever money launderer as he intends).
First of all, this "image" was not sold for 10 million €, but was purchased by Sotheby's auction house, one of the most prestigious art auction houses in the world based in NYC, along with 100 other images from the same collection, which we have discussed extensively in this newsletter, the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
The sale of the lot of 101 Bored Ape Yacht Club took place in full compliance with the law and the fiscal authorities through Sotheby's auction house on September 9, 2021 at the price of 24,393,000 US dollars.
You can find the official page of the lot sold by Sotheby's at this link→ Click here
You can find the wallet containing all the pieces at this link → Click here
Honestly I don't understand the reason of so much astonishment, but let's continue....
Now, a Picasso worth 40 million euros is compared with the work of Beeple sold in March for the equivalent of 65 million euros.
"How can a collage made yesterday be worth more than a Picasso? Something is wrong, but how is that possible?"
It should be explained that there have been far more impressive sales than this collage in the art world, for example this deflated balloon sculpture from 1986 by Jeff Koons, obviously I am being ironic, was sold for $91 million beating all sales records in art history during an auction.
In addition, it must be said that there are Picassos that were sold a few years ago for a few tens of thousands of dollars, not all his paintings are worth millions of dollars.
You can find the Wikipedia page that talks in detail about the work of Jeff Koons → Click here
The list is really long, I bring you another funny example dating back to 2018 when after being sold for over $ 1 million the work of Bansky self-destructs.
Lets get now to the core of this journalistic report, NFTs are used to launder money, and let's use that as an excuse to talk about art and beauty, rather than fear and the underworld.
The artwork is number #313 in the Fidenza collection created by Tyler Hobbs, considered the gold standard of on-chain generative art.
This work was minted, meaning created because it was algorithmically generated at mint, on June 11 by a user named PizzAle for $618, sold 20 minutes later for $2,111. Finally sold for $ 3,6 million on August 23. after just over two months (I attach all transactions to verify for yourself).
The user who bought Fidenza #313 is 6529.eth, one of the most respected and OG person there are in the crypto NFT world, I strongly encourage you to follow him on Twitter for his always stimulating threads from a technological/creative point of view.
I have no idea how 6529 would feel knowing that he is being accused of money laundering during prime time on national television in Italy.
6529's portfolio is completely open to anyone who wants to investigate his purchases, sales and where the money came from, I attach a few links so you can do it yourself:
The question I ask to the journalist at this point is, what are the transactions that triggered the suspicion that illicit money was involved? I am genuinely curious to know.
These are definitely amazing figures that denote a booming market with a high danger of economic bubble, it is right to warn people about it, but if we go on the OpenSea page, the largest marketplace of NFT, we notice that of the 999 pieces of art by Tyler Hobbs, Fidenza, only 128 are currently for sale and with a starting price of 633.476 U.S. dollars. This means that the $3.6 million sale, based on his rarity, was a sale completely in line with the cost of the other Fidenza works.
Well, as frequently happens, misinformation is caused by omission of information, not by incorrect informations. Decontextualizing the sale of a $3.6 million artwork puts the focus on totally different aspects than talking about a $3.6 million sale in a collection worth tens of millions of dollars.
Sometimes god is an algorithm
I report the words of author Tyler Hobbs regarding Fidenza:
Fidenza is my most versatile generative algorithm to date. Although it is not overly complex, the core structures of the algorithm are highly flexible, allowing for enough variety to produce continuously surprising results. I consider this to be one of the most interesting ways to evaluate the quality of a generative algorithm, and certainly one that is unique to the medium. Striking the right balance of unpredictability and quality is a difficult challenge for even the best artists in this field. This is why I’m so excited that Fidenza is being showcased on Art Blocks, the only site in existence that perfectly suits generative art and raises the bar for developing these kinds of high-quality generative art algorithms.
Now that you know what a Fidenza is let's get into the details, put aside fear and bad intentions to leave room for beauty.
The cover of this newsletter refers to one Fidenza in particular, issue #938 called "God Mode", I quote the words of the art collector bonafidehan who holds the largest collection of Fidenza and who analyzes, in my opinion, in a very good way the collection that changed the history of digital art.
"938 is going to be in the history books not only because author Tyler Hobbs created god within the algorithm that generated Fidenza but also because it was the first triple-digit sale of Art Blocks, the platform that created the generative art movement we're experiencing today, at 100 Ethereum.
What is it about 938 that is so powerful?
There is a gravity and abyss that captures the viewer's attention. At the center is a dark core, pulling and absorbing the hurricane of colors. It absorbs everything, both beauty and chaos.
And again, what is it about 938 that is so powerful?
Did you know that every spiral in every Fidenza rotates clockwise? Except for 938? This is where you begin to notice why it's so special.
Why does 938 rotate counterclockwise?
Because the 938 spiral is actually an illusion. While other spirals have long shapes that bend along the flow to create the spiral. Spiral 938 has small short shapes that seem to fall together into the abyss, forming a spiral that emerges.
How is this possible?
It is the intersection of 3 features. Attenuated anticollision control, micro-uniform, and spiral. In the absence of each, the god illusion would fail.
First, attenuated anticollision control means that the shapes are fixed on a uniform scale, creating the necessary thickness.
Second, the micro-uniform scale means that the shapes are high density, creating the cacophony of color.
Third, the spiral creates the flow of energy that acts as the center of gravity.
And furthermore, the background color of #1A2340 is necessary to create the sense of a black hole, the eye of god, which is pulling in the color of the universe. Without it, the illusion is lost. This is evidence without the eye of god:
...Sometimes, there is God in the algorithm. That's why Fidenza 938 is called "God Mode".
Has Striscia la Notizia succeeded in removing my confirmation bias that television often gives bad information? Unfortunately, also this time, no.
Surely there are people who use NFT to launder dirty money and make it go back into the traditional banking systems, but this does not mean that the whole NFT world is a scam to stay away from. Even dollars and euros are used by criminals to buy illicit items and yet it is the currency that we all use every day, and we are forced to accept. Without forgetting the banking scandals, from America to Italy to the Vatican bank, of money laundering from the underworld. And yet, despite this, we are still using them.
It would be nice to see on prime time TV information that INFORMS and does not scare people.
It would be nice to see prime time TV talk about the future of this technology and how it will impact almost every sector, from gaming to music, from tickets, train, plane and bus tickets to journalism, from art to every app we have on our smartphones, and not for 10 seconds.
Unfortunately, this does not seem to happen, good information is becoming increasingly difficult to find and today, more than ever, it is essential to become an active citizen, who informs himself and verifies the sources of the information he reads and listens to, instead of remaining passive on the couch listening to what is being said.
If you're passionate about Tyler Hobbs' Fidenza collection, I'll leave you with a few links that I thought would be useful to read before writing this newsletter and share with you:
Here you can read the full story of the algorithm that generated the 999 pieces of Fidenza on the author's official website
Here you can see the largest collection of Fidenza
Here you can see the algorithm that gave life to Fidenza
Here you can take a virtual tour to see the Fidenza collection inside the Cryptovoxels metaverse
Here you can see all the Fidenza on the well-known OpenSea marketplace
Writing this newsletter took hours of research, if you enjoyed it I invite you to share it with your friends to spread hope and not fear 🙏