NFT is such a buzz word these days. I did not understand what the hype was about just months ago. Then a good friend told me, "if you wanna understand something, just throw yourself into it". That was like a trigger for me to obsess with this buzz word. Curating traditional art is not a strange world to me but NFTs definitely was strange!
Understanding what NFTs (non-fungible token) is, that's one thing but knowing the technical spec and its potential, that's a whole different thing altogether. NFTs can really be anything digital assets that can be transform into something non-fungible. So that's another key word: non-fungible. What's that? One might asks.
A non-fungible item is something that is one-of-a-kind... is unique. For example, a simple toothbrush is fungible but if you take a picture of it (thereby convert it into a digital asset) and mint it, it becomes an NFTs. Don't take my word for it. "Somebody just paid 1.3 for a picture of a rock" -- CNBC headline.
How does it work:
Most NFTs belong to a blockchain network of ETH (ethereum). Ethereum is a blockchain network much like Bitcoin. What makes NFTs different from a regular blockchain is that it stores extra information that makes it unique (a tag if you may). These information authenticate and verify transactions of an asset which can provide the proof of ownership. This process is called minting and it makes any photo that you take into an NFTs. Please note that I'm no expert at this. For more technical information, please find the links below.
What's the point:
Just like any new technology, NFTs' purpose is unclear. In today's current market, NFTs made it big because people are trading them like digital assets. There are those who create NFTs and those who collect them. When transaction takes place over an NFTs, the buyers of said asset also receive the intellectual property rights. It's up to the owner to flaunt their assets however they wish. Wanna put them on your social media profile? Why not?
Let me get back to why and how I minted my own NFTs in the first place. My honest answer is.... I don't know enough and I wanna learn more. My instinct as a traditional curator (of sort) and a somebody who has a passion for art for art sake, brought me to the point where I had to find out for myself. So I spent one evening learning everything I can about NFTs and its market places. I found that there's growing number of marketplaces where you can sell these assets. Admittedly, I was overwhelmed by the research and the overall information that I had to sift through. But then I wanted it to be a one-day challenge so I began.
Firstly, I researched on what's hot and what's not. By entering keywords into a marketplace called opensea.io. The result was overwhelming because every sort digital art imaginable was trending. Things I found were bizarre to say the least: they were something like animated cats to naked green aliens with genitalia. To my surprise, they were sold almost instantly.
After hours of grueling search on the www, I finally found something that I can relate to. They're characters based on the game called 'Among Us'. These are (what look like) astronauts in colored space suites. The game objective is straightforward: it's to finish the tasks (you're assigned) if you're a crew member or to eliminate all other players if you're an alien (sus). Without getting much deeper into the gameplay, I would say that I enjoyed playing the game with a group of friends some months prior. I did some digging and found that there's a market for these characters on opensea.io. So there began my journey into NFTs minting.
Research, Research, Research
After a quick search, I found that most of the best selling NFTs have some 3D element implemented. They are either made with 3D software or a object that is animated like a 3D object. So I decided to choose a trading card. The game does not play like trading cards but I figure why not make them. First, I decided to make 5 cards based on the five space suited characters (black, blue, red, pink, and green). Then I decided to give them some attributes: investigation, deception, task speed, volatility, and bloodlust. These attributes are based on the gameplay.
Illustrator + After Effects
I made the layout for the card with Illustrator to create the background of these cards. Putting things together using Adobe Illustrator was easy enough for me. I just made sure to leave some spaces so that I can add some more floating elements once I export them to After Effects.
In After Effects, I turned the card (I made previously with Illustrator) into 3D object by adding camera into each of the layer and then the main timeline. These method quickly turns anything flat into a 3D object with its X, Y, Z axis displayed so you can push and pull along its axis. First I made sure each of the assets (character drawing, background, golden emblem, and the name of the character) are all on different planes along Z axis. Then I animate it by placing keyframes on the timeline. Initially, I made the animation about 8 seconds, but I quickly realised that it was too long. Based on my research, people who browse these NFTs go through them quickly and they buy whatever catches their eyes. So I made the adjustment to the timeline so that's it's less than 4 seconds.
Next Step (file type)
I needed to research on what file type I need to save in order for my assets to be accepted on opensea.io. Here's a list of accepted file format:
JPG, PNG, GIF, SVG, MP4, WEBM, MP3, WAV, OGG, GLB, GLTF
with the max file size of 40 MBs
I decided to go with GIF file type because it can animated and is lightweight. I then prepared the animation with Media Encoder on After Effects and make sure to optimise the quality without being too big. I saved the file and I made an NFTs asset....so I thought. What makes NFTs an NFTs? I thought if I just made something original, then that's it! It's not quite done yet!
Opensea.io - Marketplace
My next step was to learn about how to upload the file onto opensea.io. Creating an account was easy. It requires a connection with one of their partner wallets. If you don't know what wallets are, please check out the link here. That step was straightforward for me since I already own multiple wallets; one of which works with opensea.io. You need a digital wallet for several reasons, the most important one being that you want to get paid when your asset is sold. After you initial sale, you would also get a percentage of a sale each time your asset is sold thereafter. That's the part that most people don't know about...I think.
How much do you pay in commission? Yes Opensea.io is just like any other marketplaces, they do take commission. They take 2.5%. So let's say you sell NFTs for 1 eth (ethereum), their commission is 0.025 eth (or about $80 at the time of writing). Welp, I guess that's about right. So I signed up, connected my wallet to the account, and uploaded my asset to the market. I thought that was it... was it? No!!
There's one more step in this. I needed to initialize my account (a handshake) between their network and my wallet and this requires gas fee. It's a one-time gas fee. What is gas fee? Read more about it here. So how much was it? It was $300 worth of eth tokens. What???!!
Yes, that's right. It was that much. But if you know gas fee, you'd know it fluctuates. The gas fee goes up when there's a lot of traffics in the network (eth network in this case). So I went back to the good old interweb and did some diggings. I found out that most people pay an average of around $60-100 for account initialisation with opensea.io. I decided to wait until the gas fee comes down below $100.
There might a bit more details that I missed but I'm telling my own story based on my experience (or the lack of experience). Please take it with a grain of salt. Do your own research and reach out to me if you have any question.
Empathy School Ubud is a nature school that offers emotionally-intelligent, hands-on education for children ages 2-11(and their parents). Empathy School International was developed at Harvard, follows the latest research in holistic and evidence-based education. We believe that through exposure to nature, individualized focus, and a strong foundation in social-emotional learning…"
- School Founder/ Eric P. Gonzalez
I am proud to be on the school's board of advisory as of September 2021 and to work with them on their branding and their online presence. First off, I am proud of them for challenging the status quo and questioning the traditional way of educating youths.
As a school, they were founded in the midst of the pandemic while many schools in Bali had to shut down or were severely limited in their resources. Empathy school was founded with an intention that it would be a different kind of school and serving different kind of market needs. They teach their students based on the principle of non-violent communication (NVC) and empathy. Their students have to learn applied empathy and communication as part of their curriculum along with language and critical thinking.
Their philosophy is based on 7 tenets of education; which was written by the founder himself (a Harvard Graduate).
"Our vision is to nurture and guide our learners to be the future leaders with sustainable education"- Eric P. Gonzalez.
They place their emphasis on three areas: education, community, and nature. With the latter being the most obvious. The school is located in a 20 hectare of nature surrounded by farm lands , forests and creeks; they have more than enough space for their students to roam around and learn as much as they can from nature. Their student's daily activities include exercise, empathy class, building robots, and learn how to grow food sustainably. It's a combination of critical thinking school of thoughts and creativity process. The students are encouraged to try new things even if they might fail. Failure is seen as a badge of honors at this school.
In the beginning, I found myself being intrigue by their philosophy and their motto. I also have a strong impression about their community to the point that some might think of them as a cult; however, one thing is important to distinguished. They encourage their students and parents to question everything and anything. It's like a grassroots school where parents and teachers have to learn as much as students in order to grow and become better people in the society.
The school asked me to help them with a rebranding their online presence for grant applications and prospective investors. Their current objective is to expand their micro-school model where the teach-student ratio is good and sustainable. In the past few months, the school principle and everyone else involved worked on writing the school philosophy in which they called 'The 7 tenets'. Its supposed to represent their core values in educating their kids and which would remain their north star once they start reaching out to other students.
Seven Education Tenets
Brand Attributes & Mission Statement:
• Evidence-Based Education
• Social-Emotional Learning
• Utilize nature, our best teacher
• Family and Community
• Learning never stops
• Leadership can be taught
• Experiential learning
Design a website based on their 7 tenets
By making the 7 education tenets an essential part of their website, teachers, parents, and investors alike can understand about the school's philosophy: the how, the what, and the why. These are like their mission statement going forward and it would play an important role once they start to expand to other community and other country.
Traditional Education systems are not based on the science of learning, they are instead designed from long system traditions that are known to be ineffective at fully developing strong minds.
Social-Emotional Learning is the very core of what it is to be human and benefits education greatly. The skills developed in Social-Emotional Learning allow us to interact with our fellow humans in a more enjoyable way, to give empathy to ours, to fully receive empathy from others and most importantly to give ourselves empathy. It is these skills that allow us as adults, and our children to become our true authentic selves. When students have these skills at an earlier age their academic outcomes improve drastically.
Utilize nature, our best teacher
Nature is abundant, beautiful and teaches the most important skill in life - adaptability. Being in nature will allow our whole tribe - staff, teachers, parents, and children to constantly be exposed to new ideas as well as to learn to adapt to changes in weather, environments and the flora and fauna. Moreover, it calms us down (lower cortisol levels). (We acquire skills to adapt and be agile with changes. We learn to preserve and nurture Mother Nature to thrive in sustainable land for the future
Family and Community
No one person or one group can fully educate any mind, the only way to ensure students can truly comprehend how diverse thought can be is to meet and learn about the world from a multitude of minds, thus a robust community is essential for a strong education. Moreover, the most important thing in a child’s life is their parents/guardians. If we support parent-child connection, we will help create stronger family bonds and wiser kids.
Learning never stops
At all points inhuman life, curiosity, or the desire to learn, is there. We must provide parent education programs that support the lifelong learner in all of us.
There are best ways to learn. Some methods of teaching are better than others (at least for most people). Learning happens quickest through experiential learning, where kids focus not only on the abstract, but manipulate and develop the real world and when that the focus is on the individual, not only the group.
Leadership can be taught
It is from learning empathy, agreement building and social skills early on that our children develop the leadership skills they will need to change the world.
Information Architecture (IA)
By prioritizing their mission statement (the 7 tenets) as an important content section on their new website, I need to create an IA structure that give ease to new visitors (people reading this information for the first time) and also administrative advisors and potential investors.
The information should be in a bite size that can be expanded to include examples of each tenet being applied in practical classroom settings. These tenets are also based on many of the studies/research that would be cited along different pages to give a more credibility, thus it is important to have those links in the footnote or in the content itself.
Information Architecture (IA)
Notice that the information structure is revolved around the 7 tenets which are branched out into smaller examples. On the main page, only 4 items on the menu which helps reduced the clutter and their main page's call-to-action is to guide the viewer into the 7 tenets; therefore there will be internal link on every page that get viewer to their philosophy page.
The album/gallery is used to display photos/videos of classrooms and activities that follow these very teaching methods. There will one album for each of the 7 tenets and there will also be internal links that take them to related tenets.
My next step in the process is to prepare some wireframes for each of these pages to layout the page structure. The focus is on the ease of navigation and displaying contents that make sense and related on each page.
Thank you and please check back for more...
Thank you for following my process thus far. I will be working closely with them as they present their white-paper to their prospect investors in the impact sector. I believe in their philosophy and what they're working towards. I think It's important for designers to design good products that make changes for the better.
A rables is a farming App for an average joe like you or me. What is there in a farming? All those things you have to know about the seasonal crops, seedling time, and harvesting period are some of the knowledge a good farmer should possess. How can the rest of us hope to attain that level of expertise? Google maybe? This app makes it super easy for a novice farmer like myself to plan out my crops and their yields.
A few months ago, I started an attempt to grow food on my own. I rented out a plot of land (5×2 meters/ 16.5×4.5 feet) at a local community farm in Chiang Mai. In the beginning, I tried growing some vegetables that were easy to grow and had fast harvesting time. Not knowing much, I was given some guidance by the caretakers and the owner of the farm. By the end of the 4th week, I already had enough vegetables to last me for at least a month. I even had to give some away. My first experience was fantastic. I felt proud of growing my own food; it gave me a sense of entitlement, somehow like I deserve the food on my plate.
I regularly went back to the community farm to collect my crops because the yields just kept coming. It wasn't always easy, though. There were times when some of the crops didn't bear any results, and I had to go home not having any food. Fast forward to a few months later; my programmer friend has an idea about developing this app that can help novice farmers such as myself plan out different farming stages and layout the timeline for each crop based on its seasonality. I jumped at the chance to be involved in the project. We took a lesson on farming.
Here's a breakdown about what we learned:
Using what we learned, we came up with four KPIs (key performance indicators) for the app that could help people keep track and grow food in their own gardens effectively.
.....To be continued (25/09/21)