Like all CryptoKitties, WIRED’s new mascot is more than a cute cat and a line of code
Flip to page 13 of the January 2019 issue of Wired magazine to meet their new mascot: a beautiful bananacream CryptoKitty with dark tiger striped fur and bewitching eyes named Catoshi Nakameowto, in honour of Bitcoin’s mysterious creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
Congrats, WIRED, on your new feline friend!
Also, kudos on an explanation of what makes a CryptoKitty stand out from other digital items (or creatures) you may own:
“You may love your Pokemon, but — hold them close — they’re not really yours: the world they inhabit could be shut down in a corporate eye-blink. WIRED’s CryptoKitty, however, lives immortally on the Ethereum blockchain.”
No matter what happens to CryptoKitties and the company behind them, Dapper Labs, WIRED’s Kitty is theirs forever.
Catoshi is truly special
Each Kitty, including Catoshi, is an ERC-721 non-fungible token (NFT) on the Ethereum blockchain, a new token standard created by Dapper Labs CTO Dieter Shirley that sparked the cryptocollectibles industry.
Unlike cryptocurrencies, each NFT is unique, like a piece of art.
Think of it this way: with a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, it doesn’t matter which bitcoins you own, only how many. Like exchanging multiple five dollar bills, every Bitcoin is interchangeable with every other for the same value. With a CryptoKitty (or any NFT), however, the value is inherent to which CryptoKitty you own, and Catoshi’s value can be derived from all sorts of external and personal considerations, from what it means to other CryptoKitties players to what it means to you as Catoshi’s owner.
NFTs have opened up new forms of ownership
Dapper Labs recently developed an NFT License to help NFT creators protect their artwork and allow owners to do more with the cryptocollectibles they own.
In a nutshell, the NFT License gives NFT owners the rights to commercialize the art of their digital assets up to US$100,000 per year.
- Want to slap your Kitty on a set of adorable coffee mugs? Please, espresso yourself.
- Want to snuggle all night with a pillow version of your Kitty? Sounds pawsitively dreamy.
- Want to launch a clothing line bearing your Kitty’s visage? The catwalk awaits.
Good luck doing that with your Mickey Mouse figurine. NFTs paired with the NFT License allow owners unprecedented freedom over their assets.
Copyright can’t stop copycats
Historically, artists have copyrighted their work to protect themselves and ensure they get properly compensated. This worked for generations of creatives. But then the Internet came along and made copying and distributing art — songs, images, movies, whatever — as simple as a few clicks.
Copycats have outpaced copyright, and it can no longer protect creators. Instead of embracing that old model, the NFT License tries to define and empower real digital ownership that makes sense for the real world. And it shouldn’t just be Dapper Labs determining what the future of ownership looks like: the NFT LIcense is free-to-use and modify, and the team is constantly seeking feedback and iterating on their approach.
Smart contracts — programs built into the Ethereum network — benefit creators and owners alike. Smart contracts can trace provenance and ownership and pay out artists not just at the initial sale, but every time their work changes hands.
They can also create novel ways for owners to enjoy and use their tokens. They can bring their digital sidekicks into new games and experiences. They can customize them to better express their personality. They can bring them into the physical world.
“Googly-eyed cartoon felines may seem frivolous, but they illustrate how decentralized services can give consumers power.” — WIRED