making waves

Hot Houston summer spot plans to sell NFT membership

Each NFT pass to Lago Mar Crystal Lagoon is available for $170 to $210. Rendering courtesy of Land Tejas

One of the most hyped — and most baffling — tech innovations on the planet is making waves in Texas City.

The Lago Mar Crystal Lagoon waterpark says it’s now selling season passes based on NFT technology. NFT stands for non-fungible token.

“At a basic level, an NFT is a digital asset that links ownership to unique physical or digital items, such as works of art, real estate, music, or videos,” the Insider website explains. “NFTs can be considered modern-day collectibles. They’re bought and sold online, and represent a digital proof of ownership of any given item. NFTs are securely recorded on a blockchain — the same technology behind cryptocurrencies — which ensures the asset is one-of-a-kind.”

The Lago Mar lagoon, a 12-acre waterpark that opened in 2020, says its NFT-based season pass may be the first anywhere to enable admission into an attraction. The park’s traditional and NFT season passes provide unlimited access to the lagoon, which hosts annual events like Lagoonfest Texas. The lagoon anchors a planned 100-acre, mixed-use entertainment district.

Uri Man, CEO of The Lagoon Development Co., which developed the Lago Mar venue, says the NFT pass offers perks that a regular pass doesn’t. For example, the NFT pass lets you enjoy special activities at the state’s largest crystal lagoon, such as setting sail with a professional captain or going kayaking.

“This payment option is buzzing around the event and attractions community, with entertainment and crypto experts theorizing how places like Disney World might be able to offer NFT entry and experiences,” Man says in a news release. “We’re not just talking about it, though — we’re doing it, and we are the first in the world, as far as I know.”

Each NFT pass is available for $170 to $210. Passes can be purchased with several types of cryptocurrency.

The Lago Mar lagoon’s NFT partner is OpenSea, an NFT marketplace. OpenSea’s investors include Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban, Austin entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss, and NBA star and former University of Texas basketball standout Kevin Durant.

It's possible that NFT passes someday could pop up at Lagoon Development’s other waterparks. It already operates a crystal lagoon in Humble, is building another one in Iowa Colony, and expects to break ground soon on lagoons in Cypress, Katy, and Splendora.

To say that NFTs are exploding in popularity in the Houston area and elsewhere is a massive understatement. One study shows NFT sales hit $17.7 billion in 2021, up from $82.5 million in 2020, according to the Axios news website. Investment bank Jefferies predicts the value of the global NFT market will exceed $35 billion in 2022 and $80 billion in 2025, the CoinDesk news website reports.

The Texas City lagoon is just one of many businesses being captivated by the growing allure of NFTs. For instance, speculation continues to swirl that Disney’s theme parks will eventually adopt NFT season passes.

Furthermore, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks may turn to NFTs for ticketing, and Southern California’s annual Coachella music festival is selling lifetime passes as NFTs.

“NFT tickets have the ability to not only take ticketing technology to the next level, but to also enable direct relationships between the seller and the buyer, and the performer and the fan — creating a connection that begins as soon as the NFT ticket is purchased, and continuing long after the event has ended,” the Better Marketing blog points out.

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Building Houston

 
 

The University of Houston has tips for doing your due diligence when it comes to avoiding unintentional plagiarism. Graphic byMiguel Tovar/University of Houston

Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s words, ideas, or visuals as if they were your original work. Unintentional plagiarism is plagiarism that results from the disregard for proper scholarly procedures. It’s much easier to commit than one would think, and it has toppled giants in the research enterprise.

From 2007-2020, the National Science Foundation made 200 research misconduct findings, of which 78 percent were related to plagiarism. Here are some do’s and don’ts that will help you avoid unintended plagiarism, a potentially career-killing misstep.

The dos and don'ts

Don’t paraphrase without citing

According to a study of 63,700 students, Rutgers University Business School found that 36% of undergraduates admit to “paraphrasing/copying few sentences from Internet source without footnoting it.”

Don’t forget to add the quotation marks

And don’t forget to properly cite your sources at the end of the paper even if you used any in-text or footnote citations to give proper credit to the primary author.

Don’t copy and paste placeholders

You mean to go back and rewrite it in your own words but are liable to forget or run out of time. (More on this later.) If you copy and paste from a previously published paper of your own, it’s not research misconduct, but it is considered bad practice if you don’t cite it. This is called self-plagiarism.

Do make sure your hypothesis or subject is your own

Plagiarism of ideas occurs when a researcher appropriates an idea, such as a theory or conclusion — whole or in part — without giving credit to its originator. Acknowledge all sources!

Peer review is supposed to be confidential, and colleagues put their trust in each other during this process, assuming there will be no theft of ideas. Once the paper is published in a peer-reviewed journal, it should be cited.

Do use direct quotes

But quoted material should not make up more than 10 percent of the entire article.

Failure to use your own “voice” or “tone” is also considered plagiarism, or could be construed as plagiarizing, depending on how unique the author’s voice is. When there is an excessively unique turn of phrase, use quotation marks and cite (if in doubt.)

When paraphrasing, the syntax should be different enough to be considered your own words. This is tricky because you need to understand the primary work in its original language in order to reword it without just moving words around. In other words, no shuffling words!

Do cite facts widely acknowledged to be true (just in case!)

If it’s something that is generally held within your discipline to be true, or it’s a fact that can be easily looked up – like the year a state passed a certain law – there’s no need to cite “Google” or any generic platform, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Someone reading your work might not have a background in your discipline.

Do run your paper through a plagiarism-detecting tool

Some options are www.turnitin.com or http://www.ithenticate.com.

Sanctions

There are consequences for plagiarizing another’s work. If you’re a faculty member, the sanctions could affect your career. For instance, according to retractionwatch.com, a prominent researcher and university leader was recently found to have engaged in misconduct. Terry Magnuson was accused, and later admitted to, plagiarizing unintentionally.

In an open letter to his university colleagues, Magnuson wrote a startlingly candid statement: “You cannot write a grant spending 30 minutes writing and then shifting to deal with the daily crises and responsibilities of a senior leadership position in the university, only to get back to the grant when you find another 30 minutes free.”

He goes on to say: “I made a mistake in the course of fleshing out some technical details of the proposed methodology. I used pieces of text from two equipment vendor websites and a publicly available online article. I inserted them into my document as placeholders with the intention of reworking the two areas where the techniques —which are routine work in our lab — were discussed. While switching between tasks and coming back to the proposal, I lost track of my editing and failed to rework the text or cite the sources.” Taking responsibility for this oversight, he resigned.

And that brings us to the Big Idea…

The Big Idea

The one thing that trips up even the most seasoned writers is having enough time to properly cite all one’s sources. Give yourself a few extra days (weeks?) to finish your paper and have a peer read it over with any questionable facts or quotes that might need to be cited more appropriately.

Funding agencies take plagiarism very seriously. For instance, the NSF provides prevention strategies by implementing a pre-submission process, and is also attempting to make plagiarism detection software available.

You also may want to take advantage of resources in your university’s library or writing center. There are also several tools to help you organize your citations; one called RefWorks will keep track of your sources as you write in-text citations or footnotes.

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This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Sarah Hill, the author of this piece, is the communications manager for the UH Division of Research. It's based on a workshop given by Penny Maher and Laura Gutierrez at the University of Houston; Senior Research Compliance Specialists at the University of Houston.

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