I know, I know. Aren’t we tired of hearing about NFTs and the metaverse already? Wasn’t that one of those fads that belonged to that in-between-year of 2021?
I hate to say it, but no.
In the future, when we look back at 2021, it will forever be remembered as the year that we fully embraced the notion of digital ownership.
This idea, that since the birth of the internet had been a non-starter, is now self-evident. We used to view the internet as the mass spreader of information. Anything could be copied and pasted, indefinitely. Now, we can own a single digital artwork or a unique digital sneaker.
For us at Scandinavian MIND, it’s not only the key takeaway from 2021.
It’s the starting point for 2022.
As a media brand, it’s our mission to innovate the way we publish content. Heck, it’s been my mission as a person ever since I founded my own magazine back in Umeå in the late 90s. Yes, it was in print. And yes, we also had a website. Since then, I’ve spent the majority of my grown life chasing that sweet feeling of belonging that the world of magazines brings to the reader. And as a curious tech-nerd, I’ve seen how that editorial embrace has transcended into digital worlds. From the blog, via social media, to YouTubing, podcasting, and even live events. What I call editorial, is what is now known as content.
But it’s quite possible that all those digital advancements will pale in the face of the current paradigm shift that internet evangelicals call Web3.
This spring, when I started writing columns on the metaverse, NFTs, and digital fashion, I did not realize that this would consume the majority of my professional curiosity. The learning curve was steep. Before I knew it, I was asked to talk about digital fashion on Swedish national television, and write about it in one of Sweden’s biggest daily newspapers.
And you, dear readers, seem to be just as curious. Our most-read story of the year was a run-down of digital-first fashion brands. Our most downloaded podcast was my interview with the founders of the digital fashion platform The Dematerialised.
One of my strongest and most recurring anecdotes has been about my daughter, and the time that she called on me from her room, asking if “I should wear this cap”, only to reveal that she wasn’t referring to a physical cap, but a digital cap on her Roblox avatar. The point, which I’ve made countless times during the year, isn’t that she wanted to buy a digital asset (that’s standard practice), but that she referred to the avatar as “me”.
Which underscores why digital ownership is important: it highlights digital identity.
2021 was the year that we embraced real ownership of digital assets, in the form of NFTs, non-fungible tokens. Two industries were quick to this shift: the art world (from Beeple to Bored Ape) and the fashion world (from RFTKT to Fortnite and Balenciaga). As usual, the world of design and furniture is lagging behind, but we do see some activity, with Andrés Reisinger selling digital furniture for tens of thousands of dollars.
I think the biggest takeaway from the many interviews with Mark Zuckerberg in the wake of his proclamation that Facebook will now be called Meta and solely focus on the development of the metaverse, is that there are now officially two realities: one in the physical real world, the other in the digital real world.
2021 was the year that we embraced the idea of the real digital world.
2022 is the year that Scandinavian MIND embraces this notion as our core editorial mission. We will dedicate this year to exploring what publishing means in this new digital context. We will become a Web3 company.
Exactly what this means is something I leave for the coming months to tell. But it’s fair to say that it’s going to be about everything that makes our editorial platform unique: great content, a strong sense of community, and the never-ending depths of Nordic creativity.
I hope you will come along for the ride.