Some thoughts on the HEN-situation and beyond

I want to share some individual thoughts on the situation we are in here, just for the case some aspects might be valuable for further discussions.

In advance I would love to say ‘Sorry’ in case the text is too long. And if that is not the right place where to park it: please delete or ignore it … I just felt it was right, to share some view points and not hold it back.

First a quick intro on why I am here: End of march I had clean NFT on my radar and found Tezos and hic et nunc in April. I could connect with ideas behind the project, loved the artworks and so went on with HEN as primary place for minting clean NFTs. My decision of using HEN in the longer run was based on some contexts, which are important to me, like for instance …

  • low energy consumption in the context of NFT (~ Tezos)
  • supporting projects which can help to establish a fairer economy, like through low barriers for artists / creators independent of their regional origin or budget
  • exchange of ideas, thoughts, art with people from all over the world
  • environments which value openness and freedom of speech
  • new opportunities for creative innovation and experimentation

Compared to high barrier ETH marketplaces / NFT projects, HEN allowed people from all over the world to share and sell art at low costs. Because of TEZOS it became possible to lower marketplace barriers, as gas prizes are extremely low compared to Ethereum as you all know. So because of the Tezos blockchain, it was possible to built a dAPP like HEN, which then empowers people to take part in the global art exchange in a fair manner. To be fair, hic et nunc did neither invent the blockchain, nor proof-of-stake, nor NFTs etc. But it brought things together at an early stage.

The HEN community was finally unleashed by the people themselves. Most of them were (or even are) early adopters, which perhaps added an extra portion of motivation and patience. Even today there are only (round about ~) 5000 wallet addresses which are interacting with the smart contract on a daily / frequent basis, out of (perhaps) 60k? 60k people are not representing the art world and I cannot say how much of these 60k addresses are connected to which geographical origins. With this in mind I think it’s fair to assume, that there is still a long way to go, so that we can call HEN a global and fair (decentralized) economic solution. But it’s a hell of a start, let’s say. HEN is/was playing a role as ‘lighthouse project’ of its kind. But there are still many questions to work on or which are unsolved today, so that we cannot call HEN a final solution… For instance: there are technical barriers for people without minimal crypto/tech background; then HEN has implicitly become a new kind of gatekeeper through it’s smart contract (see the fee discussions); then we see the ‘rich-get-richer’ principle (compare it with the old google page-rank, if you remember) even is true for the art scene … etc.
Many topics are still unsolved, if one would love to establish a low-barrier, fair and diverse art marketplace.

So I think at this point in time we could easily to move forwards to not get stucked in discussion of who said this or who did that. When looking at HEN, we are looking at a first step, not a mature solution. I would love to see the community (in a broader sense) pushing even more innovation in our space and work even more on questions like how we could decrease barriers for artists / creators worldwide even more?

How can we establish a solid foundation (which obviously was not the case with for the future? Is a website the best way? Is it an SDK for cleanNFT dApps, or something else? What is the best model for decentralization (I am not speaking about tokens, but underlying concepts and social dynamics)?

I believe, that the idea behind the HEN community of today should not be reduced to the discussion around a website or a DAO for voting on features. Both is important in a certain way, and please don’t get me wrong. But this is the technical side of things, not the cause itself. Personally I would be even fine with different sub- DAO’s and different tools and websites as well, as I see no reason to support only one approach in a dogmatic way.

I deeply thank Rafael and all involved DEVs (and non-DEV) for making the first step and shaping reality based on good ideas (which can be found in many initiatives btw., not in HEN alone). But I think it’s not a responsible behaviour to just pull the plug without clear communication in advance - but perhaps that’s only human. All letters flowing around, all naming / branding discussions etc. are perhaps inevitable at that point, but it should not dominate the more important topics for the future. The story of the HEN-‘experiment’ is partly a sad and human story, but it can be also used as a learning to establish something new. Personally, I am really tired of reading all the posts on who was right or who was misunderstood or even who built this and that. I understand that many people are emotionally involved right now, but I’d say: Let’s move on.

Now it’s perhaps time to overcome this HEN introspection by re-defining our role in the overall environment we want to see established.

If the discussion on IP, naming, authorship, fee’s etc. is still the bone of contention, then perhaps we better work on completely new smart contracts. New website(s), new tools, a new decentral environment supporting a vision we believe in. Of course this would imply a lot of work, would consume time and effort, funding etc. But I feel, that we sometimes artificially limit our options by focussing to hard on forks and the old HEN, which is discontinued. Starting on the green might be the best chance we can take, but we could speak about the mission first, not only the replacement of the old.

The tezos based clean NFT community is a social sculpture (to speak with Beuys) I was really happy to find and to join. I love to interact with all you people from all over the world, to discuss various aspects connected to our esperanto, which is art and new ideas. That is a huge motivation.

Not the HEN (or any particular) website is the reason I am still feeling connected to this community! It’s absolutely not about any website for me. I understand, that many have a feeling of urgency in the room, but it’s good to take a small break and cool down a bit. What are we here for?

The website was one historical enabler in forming the HEN community. It brought ideas into movement and got started in a good timing. The more important ingredient to what we call the HEN communtiy was people (!) and the sum of their contribution. We have many websites today and even more could / will be added, for sure. I read many times that people deeply fell in love with the HEN UI etc. Yeah, it’s cool in a way. I like the minimal b/w punk style as well. I like some conceptual design decisions, too.

But is that the most important item on our agenda?
Like … Keeping a website as it was? Hmmm …

We have interim platforms at hand where people can instantly continue to make a living based on their art, for instance. We have enough brainpower and helping hands together to define new solutions for unsolved challenges or to mitigate current problems. It might be valuable if the community starts to outgrow its own HEN origins and so itself. Besides any individual perspectives, the canvas we are painting on, is bigger than HEN. Art and decentralization are not exclusive to the HEN-show. Change is not revolving around a tool, not determined by one smart contract alone, not even one blockchain. Do we really need one particular website to continue? If that really would be the case, then we could go the extra-mile to create a new one, where no intellectual property discussions are needed, for which learning can be applied and perhaps even more is possible when it comes to lowering barriers. We could easily stick to what we can do best: creating. But please in a broader context. We should care about more than HEN to stay a relevant and vibrant community.

Again, I really thank Rafael for making one of the first important steps in a promising direction. But I thank the community even more, for all the collaboration, the good will, the ideas, the art and any form of positive contribution. I hope, that we leave our mental barriers behind and concentrate on the bigger picture, which is not a brand, not a minimal design, not a website / dApp, not Steve Jobs… the bigger picture is connected to change. One initiative could be a website thingy, but another could be something else. I hope we discuss this a little bit further during the next weeks / months.

I am optimistic that we could add valuable bits & bytes to society by being helpful in increasing participatory opportunities for creators / artists worldwide. With our strengths - exchanging creative solutions in this ‘global village’, which is now decentralized. Our potential impact is implicitly not limited to art or dev alone, because from the outside we are a social lab where concepts are tested. Our experiments could lead to some proof-of-concepts for others on how change can be achieved. The overall outcome could help to prove, that people can overcome manifested power structures or unfair economics. It could prove that new concepts for income (like based on royalties …) are reasonable, etc.

But we cannot stop where the plug was pulled, right? Perhaps it’s good to outgrow HEN.
I think, that one of the biggest contributions of HEN was to pave the way for what’s coming next. The big question now is, what this colorful, talented and global community is going to do next. I would love to see that we have a lot of more creative ideas besides replicating HEN with a new name.

For my part - I want to act even more tool agnostic in the future. I do not feel it’s right to be HEN-dogmatic, because so many other projects are also doing a lot of things right and rely on support as well. I will de-HEN my cleanNFT universe to a certain degree … especially to maintain a broader view-angle. But of course I will stay evangelist for our journey, for the community and still love to collaborate on interesting steps towards future :slight_smile:

Sorry, if parts of the posts are blurry / not precise etc. I am not an English native speaker and have tendencies to think a bit meta. So this post might not contribute much to all current discussions, but as said, it felt right to share some thoughts.

I hope I did not bother anyone or bored you with the lengthy text :slight_smile:

1 Like