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“Sunshine in a Stormy Crypto Year”: NFT Fest Co-Founder Greg Oakford

“Sunshine in a Stormy Crypto Year”: NFT Fest Co-Founder Greg Oakford

It is a challenging time for the crypto market at the moment, but perhaps this week’s NFT Fest Aus is one of the biggest crypto industry events in Australia – just what the space needs to lighten the mood.

Stockhead spoke with co-founder Greg Oakford ahead of the two-day conference kicking off Wednesday, November 23rd in St Kilda, Melbourne.

Hey Greg. You and the NFT community in Australia have a few days ahead of you. However, is the timing of the NFT Fest a little unfortunate given the dominant headlines about the implications of FTX?

Yeah, it’s funny, because last week when things went downhill for FTX, I remember I just got confirmation from some of the great last-minute speakers, and it made me feel like I was on top of the world.

My initial reflex reaction to the FTX news was that it wasn’t going to be all that good for the festival. But it’s been a week or so now, and it’s pretty clear to me that the energy around the festival hasn’t abated in the slightest. And you know, we sold the most tickets on the very day that a lot of FTX news broke.

Do you think this is because the interest in the NFT sector is still great, regardless of what else is going on in “crypto”?

Yes, I just think the NFT space as a whole is a more resilient community than perhaps the crypto space as a whole. And I think it’s because there is a lot of various encounters and interests in the NFT space that drive it – for example, generative art collections, PFPs, game and music NFTs, sports NFTs. In my opinion, it brings many different aspects and use cases than fungible tokens.

And so I think this comes at an opportune time because there was a lot of doom and gloom and a lot of buzz about crypto in general. We hope that NFT Fest will bring a ray of sunshine to end a rather tumultuous crypto year with many ups and downs.

Huge NFT melting pot

You have a wide range of speakers and topics on the agenda. You have already mentioned some of the NFT narratives, but are there any features of the festival that you think stand out?

Overall, we’re just really excited to sort of lighten the huge NFT melting pot. There are, for example, some great people on the gaming spectrum, people representing the biggest leagues and sporting codes in Australia, even New Zealand rugby.

Kav Temperley from Eskimo Joe talks about musical NFTs. And then you have generative artists and artists from the traditional art world making their way into NFTs, crypto educators and those in business and brand building… it’s just a really interesting atmosphere to have all these different people together.

Conferences can often be niche focused, but that’s not the case – we’re bringing everyone to the same room and I think it’s going to be pretty interesting. I think it will cheer people up in general.

What do you think or hope people will learn from all of this?

Sometimes you go to a conference and make great connections and potential new business relationships – and that’s what we’re looking for, for attendees. But just as often at conferences, people don’t leave when they see memorable content.

As such, we are a content-driven conference and our line-up of speakers speaks volumes about this. Our main desire for members is to not only walk away with some new connections, but three to five things they didn’t know before, and hopefully stumble upon a handful of speakers they’ve never heard of before and found really interesting.

Do you still see a lot of positives for NFTs in Australia in the current environment?

Yes, absolutely. Kieran Warwick (co-founder of Illuvium) was on one of our Twitter sections a couple of weeks ago and said that on a global scale we are beating our weight in Australia – well, with many things, but in this context too.

Just look at some of the startups and people in the industry here. People like Kieran, blogger DCL, Betty from Deadfellaz are building the early stages of what seems to be quite a cult brand. You have a lot of great artists – like Danielle Weber, who presented Dwayne Johnson’s “The Rock” on the New York red carpet just a few weeks ago.

Then there’s AO Art Ball – a Tennis Australia project this January…to me it’s still one of the most underrated NFT projects I’ve seen in my time. There is a lot of NFT innovation going on right here in Australia.

Transition to the “Internet of Scarcity”

What do you say to people who tell you that they don’t actually get NFTs and just see them as insanely expensive cartoon monkey images and such?

My answer is that I understand this point of view, and I understand people’s awe or confusion about why this stupid picture of a monkey or cartoon animal is worth this or that dollar amount?

I’m old enough to remember a world without the internet. And over the past 25 or 30 years, we’ve all grown up and used the Internet, which was filled with abundance. This was Napster, this is Limewire – this is copy, this is Google image. In other words, we’re used to getting things for free and we’re used to just copying and pasting everything.

Thanks to blockchain, we are moving towards an Internet of scarcity over the next few decades, where you can actually create scarce digital assets.

Do you think it’s hard for people to come to their senses?

Definitely. At first it was difficult for me – it did not happen overnight. But I think when you can switch your brain from the internet of abundance to the internet of scarcity and create scarce digital assets, then I think that’s the real unlock.

And that’s because then all of a sudden you can go like: okay, Greg has an AO Art Ball and his buddy doesn’t. His buddy might tell you to right click and save, but then he won’t get all the benefits that Greg gets as a true owner. And we can check who is the real owner thanks to blockchain technology.

But this is my post – it’s about trying to move your brain from the internet as we know it to a new version that can make it easier to own scarce, secure, verifiable digital assets.

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