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NFTs as micro-social networks: The path to crypto adoption

Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are evolving from a niche interest to a mainstream conversation. The variety of NFT art — from cuddly to edgy to menacing — is drawing in a new audience of enthusiasts. Beyond the art, NFTs are providing a glimpse into a new layer of social interaction.

When framed as micro-social networks, NFTs could lead the way to a new form of social media based on creativity, ownership and contribution. 

Groups serve as epicenters of NFTs projects

Every week, dozens of Discord and Telegram groups appear in support of new NFT projects. These groups serve as the epicenter for a project and help people connect and learn about the NFT space. A quick listen to a Twitter Spaces conversation with one of these groups reveals a wide range of people interested in NFTs. Some members are seasoned crypto users, many are new to NFTs and some have never used crypto at all. For first-time crypto users, these groups create a friendlier onboarding experience that reduces anxiety around getting started with crypto.

The conversations in these groups reveal a shared interest in digital self-expression and a desire to connect with a community of like-minded people. Community values often form around art quality, rarity and the ideas that align with the emergent energy in the community. Like other forms of social collaboration, these groups tend to have identifiable leaders who have taken an interest in growing and nurturing the community. These members set the tone, help the community organize and ensure that the rules of the community are enforced.

Each group is establishing its roles, values and codes of conduct — often in a way that echoes the animal traits or ideas in the NFT artwork. Ape Island Apes share monkey memes, Degen Yetis egg each other on with phrases like “Haha, Yeti,” and CryptoDads share their best dad jokes. Across groups, there is a shared vocabulary for those in the know. Nearly all groups greet each other with “gm,” ...

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