Westerville North’s metaverse


Erin Mayle (Senior)

Westerville North’s Odyssey pose as Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. Each staff avatar is vastly different from one another similar to the real NFT world.

Sophie Rentschler (Senior), Broadcast Editor

   Collecting and trading, for many, refers to accumulating different types of tangible items, like Pennies or baseball cards. Now, with the rise of digital currency, young people are collecting Non-Fungible Tokens, known as NFTs. NFTs are digital artworks in the form of JPEG files, videos, or music. These digital works can be as simple as an image of a popular video game avatar. 

   Since these tokens are non-fungible, individuals will receive something vastly different than what they began with after they’ve exchanged the token. This is what separates NFTs from fungible internet currencies—Cryptocurrency and bitcoin. NFTs increase in rarity depending on the complexity of the design. Cryptopunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) are just some of the NFT collections that dominated the market. BAYC claims a large amount of digital territory with 10,000 ape avatars. 

   The reality is, the ownership of one ape image, at minimum, costs $288,000. Prices may not seem realistic for high school students, however; when there is a will there is a way, especially when it comes to the ambitious and tech-savvy youth. 

   Many students at Westerville North High School have an interest in digital collectibles, as they forage after upcoming NFT projects to make easy money. 

   Jonny Verduga (12) views NFTs as a hobby, and his strategies with collecting have gotten stronger. 

   “I don’t currently own any NFTs because I’ve been wanting to be 100% confident on the project. Lately, I’ve been looking at GalyVerse. I’ve been checking out their community to see if that’s a project I wanted to work with,” Verduga said.

   Students have methodically planned their NFT approach. NFTs that are priced low, otherwise known as NFTs with low ethereum, are auctioned for. When making decisions about an NFT collection’s value, the enthusiasm of the community is a key factor. 

   “I looked at the community and everyone’s really stoked about it,” Verduga said. 

   NFTs aren’t solely collector’s items. In fact, those who are heavily involved in NFTs find a community within their fellow collectors. 

   Although young people may explore this avenue with the intention of building relationships and making fast cash, adult business professionals collect NFTs to control copyrighted works, known as a Digital Rights Management tool. 

   “Most would say an NFT can just be screenshotted and shared, but what makes [NFTs] unique is they’re certified to be yours,” Verduga said. 

   Jason Barkeloo, founder and CEO of a local open technology collaboration platform, works with NFT blockchain technologies in his day-to-day life. 

   “I look at NFTs in a very different way than most of the younger people look at them as tradables and collectables,” Barkeloo said. 

   Regardless of the various uses for these technologies, all investors appear to similarly have an appetite for the tokens. 

   “That’s really the fun of it. It’s about what you do with the JPEG,” Verduga said. 

   For students looking to collect and trade NFTs, the metaverse is holding out open arms. In fact, many current collectors are seen as early to the game. 

   “It’s not too late to start now. If anything, you’re early to start investing. There are a lot of projects coming up this year to start looking into,” Verduga said.

   However, the world of NFTs can be accompanied with great risk. Prior to involvement, people must understand the dangers of misinformation when the word “invest” comes into the picture.

   “This NFT should just be a simple contract that I have the right to transfer to someone else, but it is not that simple [when investing],” Barkeloo said. 

   Differentiating the collecting and trading of NFTs along with investing in these technologies is a vital part of dodging difficulty in the digital endeavor. Investing in NFTs indicates that an individual has an expectation of change in value of the image, this is referred to as a security. 

   “A security is a contract that says ‘you own a piece of something and you can expect there is going to be an increased value of that thing that you own,’” Barkeloo said. 

   Labeling NFTs as securities, legally, creates potential for these digital tokens to get ugly. 

   “The legal jeopardy, the legal framework is so intense. It’s almost impossible for anyone that’s not [part of] a big company to play,” Barkeloo said. 

   Zach Buss (12) sees the risk of NFTs, and he advises collectors to start old school. 

   “ [NFTs] are handled with too much money and can be unpredictable in nature. If students want to start investing early, it may be better to do something more traditional to start safe,” Buss said.

   Terminology and educating oneself are a large part of playing the game.

   “If you use that word, invest, with an NFT that is a security. If you’re going to invest in NFTs, make sure you don’t run a foul. If you’re collecting them and trading them, as entertainment, with no expectation of future gain, then it’s not a security. Knock yourself out,” Barkeloo said. 

   For business people like Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, NFTs are seen as a pathway to a digital world—The metaverse. According to The Vergecast interview with Zuckerberg, “…you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content—you are in it,” Zuckerberg said. 

   “NFTs encourage the metaverse, since your NFT is an early step into that world,” Buss said. 

   Students have the upper hand with collecting and trading NFTs. The resources to collect and even create NFTs are abundant to everyone, but young people and their technological knowledge will serve as an advantage against older investors. 

   “NFTs can be valuable to everyone, but students usually have an advantage because of their knowledge of the internet. All it takes is a little bit of research, and you could possibly make a couple bucks,” Verduga said. 

   Minting an NFT, creating, and publicizing it to the blockchain can be easy. The seamlessness of collecting and trading NFTs has been done thanks to technological advancements made by business giants like Zuckerberg. 

   “In your room, this evening, you can mint an NFT,” Barkeloo said. 

   At the end of the day, NFTs are seen as a facet of an internet learning experience. 

   “There are ways to do NFTs besides this idea of taking a picture and trying to make $1 million dollars. You can make [NFTs] a learning tool,” Barkeloo said.