Virtual Collections: Buy Authenticity

Buying digital items is gaining popularity among collectors as the Twitter founder sold his very first tweet at the end of March 2021 for over $ 2.9 million. Technology blockchainthat allows you to demonstrate the authenticity of an object is at the heart of this craze.

IN Montreal Campus spoke with Régis Barondo, Associate Professor in the Department of Analytics, Operations and Information Technology at the School of Management Sciences (ESG), University of Quebec Montreal (UQAM), and Guillaume Latzco-Toth, Professor of the Department of Information and Communication at Laval University and Co-Director of the Communication and Digital Technologies Laboratory. Review to understand this new technological phenomenon.

Genevieve Abran (Georgia) : How to buy a virtual object available to everyone on the network?

Regis Barondo (RB) : There are markets, websites and specialized platforms that first allow you to visualize the offer. Auctions are often held. Sometimes these are fixed prices, sometimes auctions, it depends on the site. You can buy non-fungible tokens (NFT). Sites like the National Basketball Association (NBA) sell videos of LeBron James doing soak at $ 208,000. These are the equivalent of the players’ cards that are normally collected. […] What’s remarkable is that this video can be found all over the Internet.

Guillaume Latzco-Toth (GLT) A: Until now, the problem with digital objects has been that they are infinitely reproducible, and you cannot say that the original exists. […] Technology blockchain, it is the technology that made the digitalization of trust possible. This trust lies in the object itself, in the technology itself. We saw the first manifestations of this with cryptocurrencies.

GA : What gives value to a digital object?

RB : Technology is behind these purchases blockchain. They make a digital asset scarce. Back in the day, when you had something digital, you could clone it endlessly with no clue of scarcity. With networks blockchain, you can uniquely identify a digital object. By doing this, you can make it rare. If it looks like soak LeBron, we may have many copies, but there will still be this official version of the NBA that can be uniquely identified and will have a higher value.

GLT : The symbolic dimension of an object makes it so important. [Elle] comes from our relationship with these objects and with each other. If there were no collectors, there would be no collectibles. First of all, because there is a community that shares a certain number of interests and cultural codes, the object receives more or less value. […] I think we can follow the same reasoning with digital objects because we have a habit of thinking that nothing replaces an object that we can touch with our hands.

GA : Who is interested in such purchases?

RB : This may be of interest to speculators who buy to make money by selling very quickly or in the long run. At the moment, things are moving a little. It can also be of interest to those looking for visibility or status. Of course, there are real collectors. As with coins, stamps, art, there are digital collectors.

GA : Are these technologies new?

RB : NFTs have been around since the beginning of the Internet, but they weren’t called that. The concept of ownership is new. Technology blockchain allows you to retain or transfer a digital asset because it will truly belong to us. We will be able to prove that we really own something.

GLT : Even before blockchain became more democratic and tended to be widespread outside of cryptocurrencies, I noticed with my colleagues that objects are increasingly being circulated digitally in collector and collector communities, but not only. […] Our attitude towards forms of materiality is changing. These famous NFTs blockchain is another tool that allows us to move more smoothly from the material form of materiality to the digital form of materiality.

GA : How can we envision the future of these technological advances?

GLT A: This technology, which guarantees confidence in the authenticity of items, I think it is no good. […] We are currently focusing on the exciting side of transactions that are announced to us on certain objects. What will inevitably happen is that the day-to-day reality of these technologies will be much more mundane and utilitarian. […]

Technology blockchain is currently problematic in terms of environmental sustainability. Registers store the memory of all transactions. Obviously, their size is increasing day by day. It generates a huge amount of data, which only grows over time, simply because new transactions are constantly appearing.

RB : There are energy problems behind this [l’utilisation des blockchain]… We have to be careful when we talk about this because it is a real and false problem. There is a problem of energy saving, because some technologies blockchain use a consensus protocol that is necessary for it to function properly, but that pollutes the environment. However, not all of them. The consensus protocol is proof that anyone who proposes to add a block to the chain followed the rules for adding that block. […] We must not forget that we are in the first version of technology. blockchain

Photo: Leela Mater

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