(JaiChai) “A Tale of Three Cities” (or “WTF!? Where the Hell is my NFT image!?”)

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First off, I must address this: Security — Why the different mindsets?

Many people don’t put the same effort in NFT security as they do for their cryptocurrency wallets.

But when their NFT’s value shoots to the moon, all of a sudden it becomes MUCH more important, no?

Let’s get something clear:

“Just like any cryptocurrency on a blockchain, when you ‘own’ an NFT, it just means that the owner ID (private key) was given to you.

If you lose it, or lose the access to the wallet, network or the platform that you use to view, store, send, sell or trade it, you are SOL (Sh*t Out of Luck).”

Bottom line:

Security is PARAMOUNT for both your crypto bags AND your NFTs!

Hopefully, both will appreciate in value.

“Ignore my advice and you just might make crypto history by losing access to a million dollar bag of tokens or multi-million dollar NFT!” — JaiChai (20 OCT 2021)

OK. “Nuff said about security, right?

Now we can get to the aspects of NFTs that are not common knowledge; especially to the masses of NFT owners out there.

The NFT smart contract resides on a blockchain; digitally “etched in stone” for posterity.

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You can rest assured that as long as that blockchain exists, the NFT smart contract that identifies you as the sole owner (via the code that released its private key to you), your NFT smat contract will not become vaporware.

For every NFT smart contract that identifies you as the owner, you actually only “own” (are referenced in) “a piece” of that contract — a tiny sliver of the whole pie.

The rest of the code deals with the mechanics of storing, transferring, selling, trading, price, rarity, etc.

It can easily be viewed with the platform’s transaction/contract scanning sites like etherscan, bscscan, polyscan, etc., then looking at the smart contract’s metadata.

Notice that I said “your NFT smart contract will not become vaporware” and NOT “your NFT image”.

The art (image) of your NFT is, like your “ownership”, just part of its smart contract.

That code could prompt the smart contract to render an SVG (scalable vector graphic) image “On-Chain” or more commonly, it could simply point to a normal raster image (.jpeg, .png, .gif, etc.) that’s “Off-Chain”.

Can you say, “Dude! “Off-Chain”? That’s like uber-unsecure, man!”

Seriously, though, this is a key point.

Many people ass-ume that the art is always in the smart contract itself; and therefore, as permanent as the host blockchain.

NOT TRUE.

“A Tale of Three Cities” (or “WTF!? Where the Hell is my NFT image!?”)

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Currently, there are three places that it (the image) can be stored. And two of them ARE NOT on the blockchain.

The first and LEAST SAFE place is “Off-Chain” on a regular web app’s servers.

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That server could be private or it could be a part of a massive server farm run by AWS. Nevertheless, it the server goes down or gets fried and there was no redundancy, your image is vaporware.

The second and more secure storage location is again “Off-Chain”; but it is stored on a decentralized network of storage with built-in redundancies.

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This is what’s called “IPFS”.

The Inter-Planetary File System is a peer-to-peer protocol for all types of media and was created to preserve and grow humanity’s knowledge with a web upgradeable storage network; a distributed system for storing and accessing files, websites, applications, and data.

Of course, “Never say Never”; meaning, I’m sure there’s some chance that every place that stores a piece of your image may be wiped from the face of the Earth; but let’s just say, “It’s highly unlikely.”

But hypothetically, if it did, a hack and broadcasting of your image data would probably lead to this:

“Yo NFT dudees and dudettees! Free NFT Immagies from that famous artists “TIE” (Technically Illiterate Extraordinaire)! Just email us at we.steal.your.all.stuff@chinarussianorthkoreaareyourfriends.com.”

The last and MOST SECURE storage place for your NFT image is within the code of its smart contract; that is, an SVG that’s rendered directly “On-Chain”. In other words, if the NFT image “lives” on its blockchain, it enjoys the same lifetime of that blockchain.

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Submitted FYI.

May you and yours be well and love life today.

In Lak’ech, JaiChai

(JaiChai 20 OCT 2021. Simultaneous multi-site submissions posted. All rights reserved.)

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JaiChai

I'm retired (U.S. military) and living on an island paradise with my girlfriend, teenage daughter and two dogs.