I watched Bitconned.
The story the movie tells is still going strong - in crypto and to some degree the art world.
Crypto goes down on Twitter and Discord (chat rooms). My guess is that 99% of the NFT projects right now on Twitter and Discord are nothing more than hype. Most crypto coins and chains are going nowhere, but have market caps in the millions or billions.
Most in crypto are anonymous - anons. Anons make claims to be experts or to have renown, all while taking great lengths to hide their identities. But people believe and invest in them. Think handing money over to someone who won't tell you their name, on the belief you'll be repaid double your money in 24 hours.
Anons post pictures of their homes, cars, but not themselves. As Bitconned so well points out pictures don't mean anything, because it's so easy to Catfish. Then people engage. Anons post their "knowledge", others engage in this purported knowledge. Think trusting legal advice from a lawyer who won't tell you their name.
Again, most don't know who they're engaging with. It's literally the blind leading the blind. But people routinely make decisions based on information from whom may as well be ghosts. It's all standard operating procedure.
If someone on Twitter has a bunch of followers they're seen as being legit - "influencers". But it's unknown if their followers are real people. For all anyone knows their followers could be fake accounts. But this doesn't matter.
The entire market for crypto happens on Twitter and in Discords. Spreading lies is like shooting fish in a barrel. Twitter and Discord are ground zero for group think and a scammer's dream come true.
Bitconned does a good job of spelling out the insanity and criminal activity that's happening right now in crypto, fueled by Twitter and Discords.
What Bitconned covers isn't exclusive to crypto. There's plenty of unsavory business in the art world.
Blue chip is a term used in the financial world. Assigning the blue chip moniker to Hirst, or for that matter any artist, is wink and a nod that the art purchase is an investment. Promoting an artist as blue chip amounts to selling unregistered securities, which would be against the law. This happens all day every day in NFTs and the art world.
Hirst releases a few thousand pieces of art a year. No one person could produce this amount of art and Hirst makes no claim that he does – he's posted pictures of his assistants. Are buyers getting a Hirst or something done by his assistants? Buyers and fans don't seem to care.
Hirst's fans are typically rabid and loyal. They relish that he's controversial and bombastic. Hirst is a multi-millionaire, often flaunts his wealth. But yet they view him as an everyman.
Going against the flow in the Heni Discord can bring out the group think attack machine in full force. As far as I know, Hirst has not once squared off against his critics. Maybe Hirst doesn't have much to do with either his art - or his image?
Criticism and controversy don't go over well in art Discords. I've been banned for posting innocuous questions.
I was run out of the Heni Discord by user Pedro, whom Heni dutifully assigned their "Helpful Member" role to. Note the different roles and Heni releases I currently hold compared to Pedro.
I recently burned a Great Expectations NFT for a print - which isn't recognized here.
Pedro wears a mask, he's a virtual nobody. He got away scot free with accusing me of scamming him and others in Heni's Discord – with zero evidence, while the Heni mods stood by idle. My name, background, and experience are well documented – Google me. I hold at least 10x the amount of Heni art that Pedro does. Yet Heni sided with Pedro. I was the one, who left the Discord in shame. Pedro snuck up from behind and sucker punched me on Heni's playground, then ran off. All while Heni playground monitors stood by and watched the whole thing go down, and didn't do a damn thing about it.
Heni talks up security and the precautions they take to protect Discord members.
I don't believe Heni mods verified anything about Pedro, or any other Discord members they've assigned the Helpful Member role to.
On one hand Heni talks up the "security precautions" they take and the degree to which they care for their customers. On the other hand it seems that trust roles are assigned by Heni mods to Discord anons the mods have never met, verified, or know anything about. They allow a customer of theirs to be publicly slandered and shamed in their Discord. How is Heni not talking from both sides of their mouth?
So what's the solution? In crypto there isn't one. Because as Bitconned eloquently points out, a key concept in crypto is Trustless. If crypto changes it'll have to come from within, from leadership that doesn't exist - because in crypto no one is in charge.
However in many ways, crypto's Trustless concept is what the world needs. Governments and the media have been lying to us for years. It's way past time that people understand how much they're being lied to, start holding politicians and the media accountable.
It was probably outside the scope of Bitconned to point out the biggest plus of crypto - blockchain technology. The blockchain is a discontinuous innovation, truly one of the great inventions of all-time. It makes complete sense for the art world to adopt blockchain technology for all sales. Recording sales on the blockchain is better for customers and artists. Customers could track edition sizes, original sale and resale prices. Artists could choose to get a commission each time their art is resold.
So far blockchain technology - i,e. transparency - hasn't made a dent in the art world. IMO one reason is because galleries and dealers make a lot of money off of secrecy. If buyers knew what a piece originally sold for and edition details, they could better gauge its value. Transparency would perhaps stunt impulse buying, which I believe the art world relies on. Buyers would be able to verify if or not Hirst really is today's biggest selling artist. If art auctions could no longer be rigged, that would put a dent in the art world hype machine. Galleries and dealers are the art world gate keepers, they've been getting away with shady business for generations. There's no signs I can see that they're open to change.
No one should read this blog post and think that I'm trying to talk you out of buying crypto or art. Quite the opposite.
Whatever you do, don't sleep on crypto. It's already made a dent, forever changed how we pay for things. But you also have to be hyper aware of all the tomfoolery, deceit, and downright dirty business that's everywhere in crypto right now. It's really easy to get burned. Get with someone you know and trust who'll tell you like it is. Then proceed with caution.
As for art, please don't buy art as investment, or because you think it's going up in value. Don't put art on a credit card, or spend savings on art. Don't believe what the gallery, dealer, or anons in the Discord are saying about art. Set yourself a budget for art and stick to it. Think of whatever you spend on art as money you would've otherwise burned. Find people in the know, ideally someone who's been burned from buying art, to get both sides of the story.
tty next time,