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What the heck is a NFT? How to plan for Digital Assets.

In Richmond, Virginia recently, a statue of Robert E Lee, was removed. In the base of the statue, two time capsules were found in the deconstruction process. One of the capsules was likely put there by the people who actually constructed the statue. It consisted of a small copper box containing books, a coin, and a confederate flag, amongst other items. The original time capsule contained about 60 historic items and was relevant to Robert E Lee in the time period and the politics of the day. I’m amazed by the people who built this statue, and who left the time capsules, to be discovered more than 100 years later. It is intriguing to see what items people found to be important, to encapsulate and put in this time capsule.

Even now, we live in a very interesting time. Others who have written about it, describe it as the third technological revolution of the internet, or Web three. Web one is the internet and the ability to search for anything, while Web two is mobile where we have access to the internet or phone in our pocket, and also communicate using social media. Web three, which we are just at the cusp of, is the interaction of cryptocurrency, and NFT’s. This whole platform which is emerging online is really going to change the way a lot of commerce is done. There is much skeptism around it, but whether we choose to understand what it means or we ignore it, it is not going away.

What is a NFT?

A NFT, or Non-fungible token, is unique and cannot be replaced with something else. If you go online you’ll see these three letters NFT, and I’m sure you have heard about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency too. The NFT or digital currency is tracked and stored, and you can also prove you own it. This is a new way of having currency that we can trade. Technology now exists where a digital image, like an image of an athlete for example, becomes a new ‘trading card’. Like me, you may have grown up trading sports cards with your friends. There were a limited number of cards, which made them valuable to collectors. Having a limited edition trading card, meant that if people wanted it, they could buy it or trade it with other valuable cards.

An NFT is like a trading card, but it is a digital element, like a song, a small video or an image that is a digital artistic creation, with value. We all have digital images on our phones, and because of the system called blockchain, you can store your digital image or NFT on blockchain, and prove that it is the original of the image.  The way I think about blockchain is relating it to the recorder at the deeds office in real estate. The recorder keeps a record of transactions regarding the ownership of real estate, known as deeds. Anybody who has an interest in that piece of ground, can find out who owns it, how they got it and whether they truly own the entity.

There is a digital transaction record for NFT’s, and the creators of the artwork are paid on an ongoing basis, as the image gains value. It will be a large part of commerce in the future, which our children will know about, so it makes sense to understand more about NFT’s.

How do NFT’s relate to the time capsule story?

Maybe one of your New Year’s Resolutions should be that you organize your digital world. We all have digital stuff, whether it is digital accounts or website URLs you own, that might be valuable. Maybe you have digital pictures of your children, as well as family videos and experiences. Like me, maybe they all live on your cell phone. Most people haven’t really thought about what happens to all these different online accounts they have access to, if they pass away. Who will manage the accounts if you pass away? If you have a URL, decide if you want to sell it. If you have digital photos, will you share them with family? Store these images online for secure but easy access.

Last year when we had the extended lock down, I didn’t really leave the house for a month. I closed the office and worked from home. During this time, my wife and I created a digital time capsule. We saved headlines, stories, and pictures of all the news items around covid-19, and the many events that occurred over the last 20 months. Included are recordings of the number of deaths, positive covid cases and hospitalisations.  We called it our coronavirus time capsule, but it’s all digital and not in a box. It is all stored in a place so that my great great great grandchildren can access it. We will keep adding to it, as my family all have digital devices to take pictures and save them for easy access. 

Organisation

Now we have videos and pictures, it is all shareable if you organize it. You can find out a lot more about this by visiting the company my wife started called Securing Memories. Visit securingmemories.com.

Just like the time they built a statue to honor Robert E Lee, times have changed. Things will continue to change through time. Maybe in 2022 you should take the step to actually record what’s going on right now. Imagine leaving a time capsule for your future grandchildren which will tell the story of your life. What would you put into your time capsule if you were to leave one? Maybe you could take some time to think about what is important to you.  Maybe one of those items you would leave is a face mask. Perhaps you could include a story about the pandemic, amongst other things.