Who: Kadin Donohoe
What: Becoming a Rolex, ~900 words on MF Doom, NFTs as avatars, and “ghostwriting your personality”
When: Published 11 August, 2021
Where: Fake Prada Bag
How: Blake Robbins’ August 2020 reading list
Why: This is the kind of writing I aspire to. Connecting multiple dots (literally and figuratively) between foreign and familiar topics is my favorite way to understand new concepts.
I'm fortunate enough to have a nice watch and have worn it nearly every day for a very long time. At this point it feels like a part of me, a part of who I am.
Kadin Donohoe imagines NFTs as a similar proxy for identity (emphasis mine):
Consider @punk4156, a prominent curator on Twitter [...] and owner of the best digital art collection on the internet. 4156 has observed that other profile pictures engender much less engagement than his ape. Has the identity become the avatar? People describe NFTs as similar to fancy watches, but you can’t become a Rolex.
What if 4156 transferred their avatar, gave their account to a friend, and discretely ceded ownership of this identity? Ethical quandaries aside, is the account still 4156? The human curator is gone, but the art loving ape remains. Humans today place heavy emphasis on the relationship between mind and identity; what if next century, we treat identities more like sports teams?
The critical distinction is that my watch is a part of me; I am not a part of it. Are NFT avatars are the opposite?
This “identity as sports team” idea reminds me of the Ship of Theseus — a mythological story about a boat that was repaired so many times it eventually contained none of its original parts.
In other words, if an identity (or brand) can evolve over time regardless of the individuals controlling it, is it still the same thing? Does the identity extend beyond the humans operating it? As the individuals who actually create the thing come and go, it transforms like the Ship of Theseus. Is there a certain point where the thing is no longer what it originally was?
The boring counterpoint is that media companies already work this way.