CALL it a boom or a wave, Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs are everywhere — from the first tweet of Jack Dorsey to Vodafone's 3-decade old "Merry Christmas" SMS, NFTs are creating digital waves and sweeping the market of online collectables. With the global pandemic and forced lockdowns worldwide, human societies are finding new comfort zones to lead their digitised lives. It is estimated that there are about 290,000 unique buyers or sellers and 200,000 unique wallets in the NFT world today. Despite the enormous quantity of power required to support the entire blockchain technology and 'mining activities' that result in carbon emissions, the number of unsung digital artists and corporate houses embracing the NFT bandwagon continues to be exponential.
Are NFTs all about minting and trading? Not really! Recently, supporters of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange who is facing a 175-year sentence for revealing war crimes teamed up with PAK aka 'The Nothing', an anonymous digital artist to raise US$56 million through NFT to support the US extradition battle. And on their 75th anniversary, UNICEF launched 100 NFTs to support its digital connectivity project for schools in underserved communities. NFT philanthropy, the latest word in the Metaverse, is teaching the world new ways of giving back.
The 1947 Shakabpa Passport: The passport was issued by the then Government of Independent Tibet in 1947 to the Finance Secretary Tsepon Wangchuk Dedhen Shakabpa who was leading a trade delegation to China, the United States and Britain. On this passport, visa and transit visa were issued by countries like the United States, Britain, India, France, Italy, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. (Collection: Friends of Tibet Foundation)
The Shakabpa Passport: Once Lost, Now an NFT! In 1947, the Government of Independent Tibet issued Tsepon Wangchuk Dedhen Shakabpa, the Finance Secretary with a passport or 'Lam-yig', often referred to as a 'travel document' as he was leading a trade delegation to China, the United States and Britain. The document which later came to be known as 'The Shakabpa Passport' was mysteriously lost from the Tibetan community in 1992 and there were rumours that it had been sold to antique dealers and reached into the hands of Chinese government officials. After 13 years of mystery and search, the Friends of Tibet Foundation located The Shakabpa Passport in Nepal and purchased the document for an undisclosed amount to be presented to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in the year 2004. This historic travel document, which stands as an important proof of Tibet's legal status as an independent country before the Chinese invasion of 1949, is now a digital asset. Thanks to 'anaaM', an anonymous NFT digital artist, filmmaker, poet, writer and truth-seeker.
This particular digital asset is a pair of two NFTs — one which is the digital version of the Shakabpa passport and the other which is a poem which has been recited with the message of hope that it will peacefully bring the 'truth of existence' into the present human awareness — the truth that each being and culture has its unique role to play in a harmonious world. 'anaaM' also makes a prophetic statement that "the ongoing Tibet struggle is not just a political struggle between two states, but a gift for the entire humanity to discover a spiritual secret, discover a new truth that belongs to none, both or all."
NFTs Drop by Drop: 'anaaM' launched three NFTs on artist's own online fundraising platform — www.anaam.one. The artist spent almost two decades founding and serving a live-work commune and a centre for healing and transformation, and described the purpose of the mission "as an attempt to recognise the secret gold buried here, in our planet; and to discover the deepest ecstasy hidden in 'this' body, the purpose to pursue the delight of imagining, discovering and creating a new verse, born out of the meta crisis!" The three NFTs launched recently include: "Metaview: Witnessing 'Us' from the Moon"; "The Last Passport Shimmering" and "Tangka: For New Humanity".
Tangka for New Humanity: This unique NFT from anaaM featuring Tangka (the medium of exchange of Tibet until 1941) is "presented to humanity, by blockchain technology and its future vision of the world." According to the artist, "the Tangka project aspires to invite the global community's voice; vote and participation towards building a marketplace for global cause for all uprooted or marginalised cultures, such as the people of Tibet."
Lunar Library project I (2019): The Official Front Cover of the Genesis Mission, on SpaceIL Beresheet. (Collection: Arch Mission Foundation)
Footprint on the Moon: After the 'Space-flown' beaming experiments, NFTs are finding ways to have a footprint on the surface of the Moon. The anaaM NFT digital assets are expected to have a space on the lunar surface as a part of 'The Lunar Library II: Archive of Humanity', an ambitious billion-year archive project of The Arch Mission Foundation (AMF), a USA-based non-profit organisation that maintains a backup of planet Earth to ensure that our species and civilisation will never be lost. The Lunar Library Archive initiative, which aims to build a solar system-wide library system that can preserve, connect, and share humanity's knowledge for eternity will contain datasets of human knowledge and culture, including datasets from the Internet Archive. The Peregrine Mission One lander is anticipated to land on the lunar surface with 'The Lunar Library' printed on a nickel NanoFiche ultra-durable storage medium developed by the Arch Mission Foundation design team.
According to Nova Spivack, founder of Arch Mission, "The idea is to create a permanent record of all human knowledge that lasts for at least a billion years by building the billion-year archive, which treats the solar system as a library where the buildings and stacks are the planets and moons." (The Lunar Library II project details to be published closer to the launch date)
Are we ready to support the NFT project and the dream of millions of Tibetans living in exile and in occupied land? Find out more about the new marketplace of the world:
Glossary of Terms:
Blockchain: A blockchain is a distributed database that is shared among the nodes of a computer network. As a database, a blockchain stores information electronically in digital format. Blockchains are best known for their crucial role in cryptocurrency systems, such as Bitcoin, for maintaining a secure and decentralised record of transactions. The innovation with a blockchain is that it guarantees the fidelity and security of a record of data and generates trust without the need for a trusted third party. Collectible: Something that is deemed to have value or rarity, such as limited edition LEGOs or sneakers. Discord: An instant messaging platform and the go-to place for discussing NFTs. Metadata: The collection of data that defines ownership and differentiates one NFT from another. Metadata can be on-chain or off-chain. Drop: An event where users receive free tokens/NFTs for holding onto certain types of assets. Metaverse: A virtual 3D world where people can interact. Popular blockchain-based environments that comprise the metaverse include Decentraland and The Sandbox, virtual gaming worlds where users can buy and sell land as NFTs. Minting: The process by which an NFT becomes part of the blockchain. Once an asset is put on the blockchain, it is 'minted' as a token and cannot be altered. NFT: Stands for Non-Fungible Token. It is a unique, one-of-a-kind crypto asset (which can be anything from art to music) that's stored on a blockchain. Smart Contract: A self-executing digital contract. NFTs are composed of code written in a smart contract programming language like Solidity.
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Friends of Tibet Foundation, PO Box 16674, Mumbai 400050, India.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.friendsoftibet.org/foundation/
Friends of Tibet Foundation, a Charitable Trust (Regn No: 126/IV/2021) is the philanthropic wing of Friends of Tibet, a non-profit organisation founded in 1999. The primary objective of the Foundation is to support the conservation and promotion of Tibet's tangible and intangible heritage including healing traditions. Friends of Tibet Foundation is also engaged in conducting research on the unique heritage, legacy and history of Tibet and publishing varied research papers with the collaboration of scholars, academicians, scientists, holistic health educationists and sociologists.
Digital Support: Design & People, India + Ibiblio Digital Library & Archive Project, University of North Carolina, USA