Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the blockchain, along comes dictionary-maker Collins to bring up NFTs again. Only this time they’re not trying to convince you that you can be the sole owner of a JPG. No, they’re here to tell you that the abbreviation for ‘non-fungible token’ is 2021’s word of the year.
The annual ‘word of the year’ announcement tends to be tech-related, for the simple reason that new tech tends to create new words. There was that one year when the word of the year was an emoji. That was a fun time.
Someone will make an NFT of this
Collins doesn’t just draw new words out of a hat. Dictionaries don’t work like that (we think). They’ve got their reasons for selecting the abbreviation for the word of the year. Collins explains their reasoning, saying that NFT is “…a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible”.”
“In other words, it’s a chunk of digital data that records who a piece of digital work belongs to. “Unique” is important here — it’s a one-off, not “fungible” or replaceable by any other piece of data. And what’s really captured the public’s imagination around NFTs is the use of this technology to sell art. For example, the rights to a work by the surrealist digital artist Beeple sold at Christie’s in March for $69m”.
In other words, it’s all about the money. Or, at least, the number of people who think they can make money selling digital art for massive sums. So, no matter how you might feel about NFTs — and there’s no denying they have their critics — it looks like they’re sticking around. After all, if it’s in the dictionary, it’s official. There are several other words that made the shortlist for 2021 — double-vaxxed, hybrid working, pingdemic, climate anxiety, neopronoun, regencycore and cheugy were all in the running before NFT swooped in and stole the show.