This is a cautionary tale.
Here’s how it ends: Three digital wallets containing 0.5 ETH, hundreds of NFTs, and 700 Doge lost to the void. May my CryptoKitties rest in peace.
Here’s how it began: When Dogecoin first came out, I started mining from a beat-up iMac. They had little value at the time, 700 Doge was worth next-to-nothing, and I treated them as a novelty. I mostly used them to send tips to creators on Twitter. Then, I got a shiny new machine and moved on. Years later when trying to recover them, future-me realized that I encrypted the wallet with a very secure password.
If only I still knew what it was.
With no recovery phrase, they remain frozen forever on my old iMac — which will now forever live in storage.
The early days
My first experience with proper NFTs was through Crunchyroll Digital Drops. It was awesome. They didn’t talk about being NFTs or even being blockchain-based. They were affordable digital collectibles and I had quite the collection until their service stopped without any way of exporting — and all was lost.
I then discovered Metamask. The app on my phone? Seamless. Logging in with biometrics made it super easy.
The password I created was long-lost to my memory, as was the recovery phrase. It didn’t matter though, because I could grab that private key whenever I needed — that is until the app updated and biometrics required me to enter that forgotten password once again.
Ensues a sad but familiar tale: an abandoned CryptoKitty, a Clover, and around 0.5 ETH all lost to the void.
A lesson for all of us
We can do better. Voice will do better.
People have given me lectures on how I should’ve written those things down, how recovery phrases are something to be stored in a safe — but I don’t agree. Web 2.0 evolved around users. We solved these problems already.
Users can reset passwords, use alternative methods of login, reach out to customer support, and more. Our accounts are us, and there are lots of ways to get back into them.
Two-factor authentication and other methods were developed to ensure that people were safe even with this flexibility.
Yet the current landscape of digital assets and collectibles is an unusable, technocratic garden. I see a future where everyone owns art, collectibles, assets, and tokens of all sorts. But we can’t get to the mainstream with such friction.
Transaction costs, a high barrier for entry, value inflation, and general confusion are all in our way. Having to spend $65 in fees to buy something for $15 isn’t sustainable.
To make NFTs ubiquitous, we need to incorporate the same level of ease that got your parents and grandparents onto Facebook. We need to onboard them into security measures that they would never think of, while ensuring their accounts and assets are recoverable, shareable, and something they tie to their own identity.
This means moving away from general purpose wallets as the only way of interaction with blockchain-based technology. Platforms need to account for the needs of users through smooth and easy onboarding — with all of the conveniences we have become accustomed to from Web 2.0.
Consider Voice’s mission. We believe NFTs should be accessible to everyone, and while that means starting with user experience, it can’t end there. Doesn’t everyone deserve to create in and explore this new world without fear of losing it all?