My Top 5 Resources to Grok NFTs

From the desk of Dr. M.A. Baytaş


With Tags

Blockchain · NFT · Business · Culture

There's been massive economic activity around NFTs since early 2021, feeding massive hype about the tech itself.

Having never scored anything from speculative trading, I didn't even try this time. However, I very much believe in this tech. There are many use cases where NFTs can, and do, improve over what we have today. But that's another blog post.

Let's suppose, like me, you want to build things with NFTs, and not trade PFPs. You'll need to grok:

  • Tech: protocols, standards, engineering facts...
  • Business: the game, the players, the customers, the traps...
  • Culture: what people care and talk about, and why...

Where to go and find these out?

Even as a blockchain veteran (GPU-mined my first 2 bitcoins!), it took me a while to grok NFTs, wading around for a few weeks, before I found clear waters.

This is a little list of some resources that led me to concretely understand truths around the tech, business, and culture of NFTs. They do come with a few caveats though.

Ethereum Docs →

97% of NFTs on the market are built on the Ethereum blockchain, based on the ERC-271 technical standard. The docs are must-read if you want to do anything serious.

They won't answer all of your questions -- you'll probably need to read up elsewhere, to become productive. Technical books are great for this, like those from O'Reilly and Packt. You might also want to check out "Ethereum alternatives" like Solana, Avalanche, etc. But these docs are the heart of it all.

NFT Canon by a16z →

This is a great collection of well-written, on-topic articles that cover pretty much all things NFT. It's curated by a team at a16z, one of the world's largest and most influential venture capital firms, with a giant stake in the NFT scene. (They have invested in pretty much every crypto startup under the sun.)

Now, this is a rich, high-signal, high-quality resource. However, a16z has a lot of skin in the NFT game, and one reason they're doing all this "knowledge creation" and "thought leadership" is to pull people into the hype and move their needle. So you'll find a lot of hopes and dreams and promises here, but not as much in the way of critique. They are still telling the truth. But it's the truth according to people who really, really want NFTs to win.

Not Boring by Packy McCormick →

Packy McCormick is also associated with a16z, and doesn't hide that he's personally "very long crypto." And he really does his homework.

He writes not only about NFTs, but all kinds of visions for the metaverse, DAOs, politics, and all the things in our world that blockchains can change. Yes, he wants NFTs to win. And this is where he explains, why.

Hands-on Smart Contract Development with Solidity and Ethereum* →

Solorio, Kanna, and Hoover's book is a no-BS manual that takes you from n00b to dev in one go.

I haven't followed through all the implementation stuff in this book, and I've heard that some of it is already out of date. (The book is from 2019 -- a couple of generations ago, in NFT-land.) To me, the most valuable part was the first few chapters, explaining the technical fundamentals of how it all works -- concepts, protocols, standards... And the implementation parts, though dated, still give a great overview of layers and components in the ecosystem.

* Affiliate link -- at no extra cost to you, I earn a small comission if you purchase from this link.

The Generalist Briefings by Mario Gabriele →

The Generalist is a business publication, not really NFT-focused. Mario Gabriele writes up well-researched pieces on the histories and strategies of formidable operations in tech, finance, etc.

He has covered OpenSea, Sushi, and MetaMask, along with conceptual stuff like DAO-based decentralized nations, as well as his own experiments with NFTs. It's a great behind-the-scenes look into the business side of it all.

Bonus: Not Investment Advice Podcast →

Jack, Bilal & Trung's podcast is perhaps the most casual and non-technical among all of these resources -- great discussions on the culture and value of NFTs and all things around them, between three guys who don't shy from getting their hands dirty and putting their money where their mouth is.

I'm expecting that their focus will shift over time, away from NFTs, to whatever becomes fashionable and interesting from an investment perspective. But today, there's no better place to go for understanding the culture and psychology of the players in the NFT ecosystem.

Naturally, when you start actually building, you'll go deep in the waters. But in the ocean of hype and low-signal media, the resources above have been the spots where I found fish.

Have you also enjoyed any of the above? Anything to add to the list? You think all NFTs are a scam purported by aliens to destroy human civilization? HMU on Twitter and let's talk: