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Life, Memories, and NFTs
Last week, my friends and I embarked on a road trip, aiming to explore the history of the Liao Dynasty in China by visiting ancient Buddhist pagodas. Upon arriving in the starting city, I realized I had forgotten to bring my sun hat. So, I rushed to the nearest market and purchased one. The quality of the hat was mediocre; its brim was heavy and the body extremely light, almost like a kite. As anticipated, it was frequently swept away by the wind during our trip. Though dissatisfied, I was too lazy to buy another one, so I thought to myself, "Endure it, and discard it on the last day."
The separation came sooner than I expected. One day, in an attempt to get a closer look at a pagoda, we climbed a deserted hill. It was a strenuous effort to reach the top, only for a gust of wind to blow my hat away. I couldn't possibly descend the hill just to retrieve my hat, so I decided to let it be. However, about ten minutes later, my friend, coming up from another side of the hill, surprisingly appeared with my hat. As it happened, the hat had been blown onto a narrow path he was traversing.
Having been swept away atop a hill and then retrieved, the hat transformed into an item with a story, touched by the charm of friendship. Therefore, I resolved not to discard it. When the trip concluded, I took it home, washed it, and stored it carefully. Although I likely will never wear it again, this hat will serve as a reminder of the delicious food at the morning market, the ancient stone pagodas, the thorns on the wild mountain roads, the vista from the hilltop, my wonderful companions, and the beautiful times we shared. It has now become a non-fungible hat.
I refer to it as a 'non-fungible hat,' not because it's a tad older than the twenty similar hats available in the market, but because this hat carries my personal memories and emotions. However, this distinction exists solely in my heart; technically, I have no way to attach these experiences to the hat. As such, to others, its uniqueness can only be discerned tangibly - oh, it's just a slightly worn hat.
A few months ago, I purchased a pair of Nike's digital-physical sneakers - the RTFKT Cryptokicks iRL, and completed the redemption just last week.
Its digital form exists as an NFT digital collectible, while its physical form is a size 9.5 pair of sneakers, which I am set to receive in September. The shoes boast many impressive features such as auto-lacing, turbocharged shock absorption, wireless charging, gesture control, and even the capability to adjust the glow color via a mobile app. But these aren't my main focus. Its most pivotal feature is a built-in chip dubbed 'RTFKT World Merging.'
This chip allows the physical sneakers to verify and connect with their digital form, the NFT, thereby facilitating a certain level of interoperability between the physical and digital realms. These are sneakers infused with digital memories.
If I were to visit all eighty-eight existing Liao Dynasty pagodas wearing these sneakers, they would transform into a pair holding a 'grand slam' of Liao pagodas experiences. They could also become a Hawaii vacation sneakers, or a daily check-in sneakers at the Golden Gate Bridge. They leverage Web3 technologies to record the roads I've travelled and the sights I've seen, turning experiences into credible data and truly granting data ownership to the wearer. Those data are programmable and interoperable and will constitute another identity for the wearer in the digital world. Perhaps in the future, a researcher studying the history of the Liao Dynasty may endeavor to find which address has visited the most Liao pagodas and attempt to establish a connection. Perhaps, if I attend Devcon wearing these sneakers every year, I will continually receive invitations to sample new products.
Under such a framework, we can undoubtedly expect a rise in niche social groups in the future. People will be able to engage with like-minded individuals using their digital identities. We may see groups of aviation enthusiasts who make weekly visits to airports, or groups that attend Broadway operas each month. A natural trust will develop among these enthusiasts, as these experiences are verifiable and trustworthy, thus revealing their true interests.
Nike is not alone in this; numerous teams have started exploring different ways to embed NFT chips into wearable items. When everyday objects in our lives gain a new dimension, countless new scenarios will be unlocked, with the only limitations being our imaginations. Physical forms are not a necessity—NFT-based tickets, NFT-based fan cards, NFT-based memberships; all of these will eventually become components of our life.
Every life journey is unique. Now, we have found a new way to preserve the uniqueness.
The scenarios mentioned in this article are based on a reasonable imagination of current technology development and, to some extent, reference Nike and other similar programs, but do not specifically refer to Nike's scheme.
The images featured in this article come from Yixuan, Huan, and MasterPa. Many other friends also appear in many of the images, and I would like to extend my special thanks to them.