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Issue #25 – Playing With Reality – NFT’s Are The New Social Network, Penguin Club, Lionel Messi Crypto Mania, The Future of Crypto Is Ownership, Metaverse, Text Memes, Stripperville and Xanadu

Thijs Pepping
August 17, 2021

It’s official: the full title of our upcoming book is “Real Fake – Playing with Reality in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”.

“Real Fake” is our take on synthetic media and the follow-up to our 2008 book “Me the Media”. Real Fake is about how humans continuously manipulate reality and how new digital technology tools enable us to go one step further in this ancient game. This includes modern phenomena like conspiracy theories such as QAnon, Deepfakes, and fake news, but also virtual humans such as CGI Influencer Lil Miquela and virtual worlds like Fortnite.

NFT’s Are The New Social Network

“Before the full Metaverse arrives, there’s already something happening that’s bigger than jpegs. NFTs are starting to feel a lot like a new kind of social network that sits above other social networks and communities. […] NFTs blur the lines between social and financial capital, and as the media has been quick to point out, buying jpegs for thousands or millions of dollars seems irrational. The mistake that those who dismiss NFTs make is missing the importance of social capital. […] The next big thing will start out looking like a toy. The next big social network may start out not looking like a social network at all. The future is going to be crazier than we can predict, and a social network based on jpeg ownership certainly fits the bill.

Humans are status-seeking creatures, always looking for new ways to elevate ourselves above the pack. Community NFTs are behaving as a new kind of social network because they gave people access to social standing and connection, as well as a potentially lucrative investment.

I Joined a Penguin NFT Club Because Apparently That’s What We Do Now

Community NFTs, by contrast, are group projects. They’re released in sets of unique but thematically linked images that can be bought and sold individually. Buying a community NFT typically entitles you to certain benefits, including membership in a shared Discord server or access to a private Telegram channel, where you can talk with other owners.”

“What is cooler is that these NFT experiences are operating at the interaction of gaming, communities, and social nets. And they are not taking on any of the incumbents directly. They are building on top of them all. […] ” These NFT communities are creating the opening that venture capitalist Fred Wilson has been looking for, they are opening a path to the Metaverse.

Footnote: If you want to now more about upcoming NFT communities and the key stats behind theme, please visit this web page.

Lionel Messi Joins Crypto Craze

“Soccer star Lionel Messi’s signing on fee at Paris St Germain includes some of the French club’s cryptocurrency fan tokens, in the latest big name endorsement of new digital assets. […] Fan tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that allow holders to vote on mostly minor decisions related to their clubs. […] The tokens are increasingly seen by clubs as a source of new revenue.”

Mmm, this makes you wonder, why would Messi take a portion of his earnings in crypto fan tokens?

The Future of Crypto Is Ownership

“The internet we have allows for the easy transfer of information. We costlessly swap copies of news articles, music files, video games, pornography, GIFs, tweets and much more. The internet is, famously, good at making information nearly free. But for precisely that reason, it is terrible at making information expensive, which it sometimes needs to be. What the internet is missing, in particular, are ways to verify identity, ownership and authenticity — the exact things that make it possible for creators to get paid for their work. […] If the original internet let you easily copy information, the next internet will let you easily trade ownership of digital goods. Crypto lets you make digital goods scarce, which increases their value; it lets you prove ownership, which allows you to buy and sell them; and it makes digital identities verifiable, as that’s merely information you own. Together, they unlock the potential for a true economy for digital goods, where creators actually get rewarded for what they make.”

Why Games Became Luxury Fashion’s NFT On-Ramp

We have reached a perfect storm of a combination of trends that have collided, and NFTs have come in and ignited it all. Now you can have exclusivity and scarcity in games, and it allows us to bring a brand like Burberry in and ensure we are bringing the authentic brand into the game — that vibe of premium and exclusivity can now exist. […] It’s all about culture, and NFTs are having a cultural moment. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaning into moments in culture and experimenting. We have to be playing with all of these things because, you know, I’d be a billionaire if I knew which one was going to be the answer. It’s more about being aware of the culture and the conversation, as much as the technology. Otherwise, the tendency can be to get excited and carried away by technology, but actually understanding the culture and how you can show up in a relevant way with technology — this is the sweet spot.”

Digital spaces have become venues for brands, artists and musicians. “By experimenting with NFTs in gaming, luxury brands are in many ways de-risking, tapping into spaces & behaviours (i.e. paying real money for virtual skins) that gamers are already used to. It’s the perfect on-ramp to test receptivity to this new approach.

Text Memes Are Taking Over Instagram

“Fueled by Gen Z, text-heavy meme posts, often paired with nonsensically unrelated pictures, are turning the photo and video app into a destination for written expression. […] Known in internet slang as shitposting, this style of posting involves people publishing low-quality images, videos or comments online. […] The trend has transformed Instagram, the photo- and video-based app owned by Facebook, into a network of microblogs and a destination for written expression.”


“Welcome to the world’s first digital Strip Club consisting of Stripper NFTs. StripperVille is an NFT project consisting of 3,000 hand drawn first generation NFTs that are Strippers on the Ethereum blockchain.

Like ZedRun, but this time with strippers. It makes me wonder what other kind of applications we will see in the near future that are based on this businessmodel.

Collective Finance: Why the Future of VC Is Multiplayer

“Tokenization enables collectivization. It enables community. If you assume Web3 is the future, then you have to assume that Web3 is the future of investing. And in Web3, multiplayer investing is the default.

MUST WATCH: intelligent NFTs

My mind is blown (<– click the link to watch the movie). By using you can create a unique, intelligent, GPT-3 powered and interactive version of your digital asset (an iNFT). You basically give a NFT superpowers. So in the future “we are all going to be friends with our NFTs”.

MUST WATCH: NVIDIA Graphics Research

NVIDIA Graphics Research

“See how two key areas of research—real-time rendering and AI-based content creation—are visualizing virtual worlds where light and other elements of physics work exactly the way they do in the physical world, while being simulated in real time and at the same time, AI is finding its way into every single area of graphics creation with powerful GANs.”

Fake has become the new real(ity).


My alter ego’s about to live large in the Metaverse! Xanadu begins…almost!

One dude builds these kinds of movies in just a couple of weeks by using some epic tech that’s basically available for everyone. It’s the democratization of creativity!

MUST WATCH: The Making of the GTC Keynote

Connecting in the Metaverse: The Making of the GTC Keynote

See how a small team of artists were able to blur the line between real and rendered in NVIDIA’s GTC21 keynote in this behind-the-scenes documentary. Even NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang was a virtual human being during certain parts of his presentation. Look at this part of the presentation where you can see Huang magically disappear and his kitchen explode into multiple different 3D models.


Playing with Reality is a weekly newsletter in which SogetiLabs’s Research Institute VINT examines the future where synthetic reality becomes part or our objective reality. We investigate the impact of new technology on people, organisations and our society. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us at

About the author

Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Thijs Pepping is a humanistic trend analyst in the field of new technologies. He is part of the think tank within SogetiLabs and in his work he continuously wonders and analyses what the impact of New Technologies is on our lives, organizations and society.


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