Do we live in a wonderful time or what?!
— P.T. Barnum (probably, if he weren’t, you know, dead)
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal introduced me to the newest kraze that all the kool kidz are jumping on: yats. And just when you thought things couldn’t get any more outlandish than NFTs…they somehow manage to do so.
Yats — besides being something that my spellchecker refuses to acknowledge — are a string of emojis that someone “owns.” When the yat is tied to an identity — say, a website URL or a social media page or even someone’s name — it becomes a pointer to, or replacement for, that identity. In their most pretentious form, Yats offer, at least in theory, a censorship-resistant form of pseudonymous identity for the internet era (via Mashable).
That’s a fancy way of saying that yats are like vanity license plates on the information superhighway.
After reading about such a preposterous product, I took the only logical step, and henceforth, you may refer to this blog as:
[Get it? Fire emoji + ant emoji + pencil emoji (because I write it) = Fire Ant Gazette blog. I hate it when I have to explain my yats.]
So, you may be thinking, what? Excellent question. The utility of a yat is highly questionable for someone like me, other than as a research project that yields a blog post. But the process of acquiring the yat was interesting, and it is the first step toward another thing of little practical value: creating an NFT.
Making a Yat
The first step is to visit y.at, the gatekeeper/registrar for all things yatish. That’s where you can (1) get a better explanation of yats than I’ve provided, and (b) buy one for yourself. That’s right; yats are not free. Depending on which and how many emojis you wish to include in your personal yat, the price to buy it can range from a few dollars to six figures plus. Mine cost $140. You can pay with cryptocurrency (of which I have zero, which is a problem for my NFT dream; more about that later) or with good old American dollars via credit card.
Once you have your yat in hand, you can then create a “visualization” that presents said yat in a groovy animation. Here’s mine:
The “68” in the lower right hand corner is my yat’s “Rhythm Score,” a measure of its “rarity.” This is determined by its length–shorter is better; a one-emoji yat is the crème de la crème of yats, and probably costs more than my house is worth. (For the record, I also checked on registering 🔥🐜 just to see what it would cost. The message I received instructed me to contact them for price. In other words, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.)
Other factors for computing the Rhythm Score are the popularity of the emojis based on current worldwide usage, and the pattern or arrangement of the emojis. It’s all very scientific stuff, to be sure.
And, according to the Yatniks, my yat is a “rare gem,” with only “1 in 270,000 yats achieving a similar score.” So, who’s laughing at my $140 investment now, hmm?
Uses for a Yat
According to the Wall Street Journal article and other similar reports, celebrities are putting their yats on their social media pages, and some plan to use them in marketing materials such as albums.
For a mook like me, the only use I can think of at this time is as a pretentious way to link to this blog. So, on the Yat website, you can specify a “redirect” URL to send people to the website of your choice. The Gazette’s is y.at/🔥🐜✏️; go ahead and click if you want (it will open in a new tab)…it’s fun for the entire family. But be sure to come back here, because I’m not finished.
So, what’s next?
Another good question. Well, it’s theoretically possible to mint a yat as an NFT. I could fill a book with the things that I don’t understand about NFTs, including why they have any intrinsic value, but then I just paid $140 for three emojis so I’m not exactly an authority on value.
Anyway, what I do understand is that minting a yat is the process for adding it to the technology by which you can prove that you own it. You may have heard about that magical construct called “the blockchain”; that’s where the ownership record publicly resides. And in the astronomically unlikely event that someone ever decides that 🔥🐜✏️ is a pearl of great price and wants to offer me vast sums for it, the NFT and blockchain provide the mechanism for me to get paid and for the transfer of ownership to become ensconced in the public record. (Feel free to correct me if I got any of that wrong. Oh, and feel free to congratulate me if I got any of it right.)
I decided, what the heck, let’s NFT this sucker. I dove in like I had good sense, but I quickly ran into multiple roadblocks. For one thing, you can only pay to mint a yat by using cryptocurrency, of which I find myself destitute. No problem; I’ll just buy some Ether (second to Bitcoin in cryptocurrency market share), which is the only crypto Yat accepts. And, as it turns out, the platform you have to use to acquire Ether doesn’t work in Texas. I have no idea why.
I carefully weighed my options and decided that moving to another state was a sub-optimal solution. So, for now I remain a yat owner yet bereft of the benefits accruing to NFTism. And I think P.T. would get a big laugh out of that.