History, Memory and Hype: Provenance Work in the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Market

Project Details


Although hype traditionally centers on future projections, our research introduces an alternative viewpoint emphasizing the importance of history and memory. Utilizing grounded theory methods, we delve into the experiences of 20 entrepreneurs and investors within the NFT market who consciously harness historical perspectives. By analyzing in-depth interviews alongside an examination of observational data and archival records, we demonstrate how actors can strategically use the past to classify assets, generate different types of hype, and differentiate themselves in a future oriented market. In contributing to the literature on hype, we formulate an empirically grounded model that captures the focus of managing the past and its interplay with the present and future in hype management theory. In particular, we introduce a novel concept termed provenance work. In this performative strategy, actors enhance or maintain the historical authenticity of assets serving both prosocial and commercial interests in a future-focused market. Our focus on the NFT market also generates a unique perspective on the role of technology in managing hype. Specifically, we highlight how blockchain technology, pivotal in the NFT landscape, can serve as a tamper-proof historical record that mitigates potential negative consequences of hype by preventing the selective recall of past events.
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