Buy This Column on the Blockchain!


Foundation makes minting an NFT easy, but adding it to the Ethereum blockchain can be expensive. It requires paying a gas fee a kind of congestion tax that is based on how busy the network is and listing my token required two transactions: one to mint the token and another to generate the code that runs the auction. These days, gas fees to create a single NFT can exceed $100, although many are closer to $50.

The next step was to list my new NFT for sale. I set the minimum acceptable price of the auction at 0.5 Ether, or about $850 at todays exchange rate. The auction will run for 24 hours after the reserve price is met, though more time gets added if people bid in the last 15 minutes. After a winner is named, the token will be automatically transferred to that persons Ethereum wallet. I will transfer the proceeds to the Neediest Cases Fund (minus the 15 percent cut that Foundation takes and any costs associated with the donation).

In addition to selling the token, many NFT sellers add perks. Kings of Leon, for example, are sending a limited-edition vinyl album to people who buy their NFTs, and giving buyers of a special golden ticket NFT free concert tickets for life.

I dont have concert tickets to offer, but I did want to sweeten the deal. So heres what youll get if you win this NFT auction:

  • As with all NFT sales, youll get the token itself a unique digital collectible that corresponds to an image of this column in PNG format. (Our lawyers want me to note that the NFT does not include the copyright to the article or any reproduction or syndication rights.)

  • Youll also be featured in a follow-up article about the sale, along with your name, your affiliation and a family-friendly image of your choice. (NFT sales dont require identifying yourself by anything other than your Ethereum address, so you can stay anonymous if youd prefer. Also, my bosses want me to note that The Times retains editorial control over the follow-up column, and reserves the right to decline submissions that dont meet our editorial standards.)

  • And as a bonus perk, Michael Barbaro, the host of The Daily, will send you a short, personalized voice memo congratulating you on your purchase.

The biggest perk of all, of course, is owning a piece of history. This is the first article in the almost 170-year history of The Times to be distributed as an NFT, and if this technology proves to be as transformational as its fans predict, owning it might be tantamount to owning NBCs first TV broadcast or AOLs first email address.

Of course, thats far from a guarantee. NFTs could turn out to be a passing fad that is feeding a speculative bubble the digital equivalent of Beanie Babies and your investment could turn out to be worthless.

But if they stick around, NFTs could transform the way digital goods are created, consumed and traded online. Some news organizations, including Quartz and The Associated Press, have already experimented with selling NFTs, and YouTubers and other online influencers have begun creating their own lines of cryptomerchandise.

Some of the NFT buzz is shallow hype, no doubt. The cryptocurrency world is full of scammers and get-rich-quick hustlers whose projects often end in failure. (Remember the initial coin offering boom?) And critics point out that NFTs and other cryptocurrency-related projects require enormous amounts of energy and computing power, making them a growing environmental hazard. There are also legitimate questions about what, exactly, NFT buyers are getting for their money, and whether these tokens will turn into broken links if the marketplaces and hosting services that store the underlying files disappear.



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