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The race is on to figure out what role curatorial practice will play in the market-driven, speed-obsessed world of NFTs. The term “web3” is deployed with the same starry-eyed enthusiasm that accompanied its predecessor, Web 2.0, more than a decade ago, when thought leaders were extolling the virtues of news feeds, social graphs, and curation. For those now in a position to sell the narrative of web3 as revolutionary, the goal is to convince potential investors and users that the blockchain is propelling us toward a new and improved internet. Revolutions promise change, but revolutions are also cycles. A revolution is one count in a circular movement that may accelerate but nevertheless loops back to where it began. Platforms are emerging that offer the opportunity to curate NFTs in various ways, from virtual galleries in the metaverse to sites that let collectors organize their tokens in an aesthetically pleasing way. As web3 explores how curators can mediate and contextualize this new boom of digital art, the NFT world runs the risk of repeating and accelerating a grave mistake of Web 2.0: emptying the word “curate” of all its meaning, destroying its associations with care, research, and collaboration; and rendering it a near-mindless activity of rapid image association and exchange.

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