Firstly, let’s define what an NFT is for those of you who aren’t as familiar with this new technology. An NFT (or non-fungible token) is a virtual identifier of authentic ownership. In simple terms, it’s a stamp that says you own something digitally.
Over time NFTs have become much more than that—and while the baseline technology is highly utilitarian, today NFTs are most known as collectible pieces of digital art that can be bought at one price and hopefully sold at an even higher value. See more details at our previous article here.
In reality, art being overly commodified has been a growing complaint in the modern art world that stretches back before NFT technology was in the zeitgeist, as the purchase of art has become more and more a way to diversify an investment portfolio over the years.
But NFTs are just a tool. Like any tool they aren’t to blame for the way they’re used. What if “culturally bankrupt” NFTs actually hold a secret potential, one that could transform them into a forefront protector of our shared human culture?
Struggling Cultural Heritage Sites
Definition: A Cultural Heritage Site is a monument, a group of buildings, or a museum that has a diversity of values including symbolic, historic, artistic, anthropological—a place of scientific and social significance.
These sites go by a few names, perhaps the best composite list we have today is UNESCO’s World Heritage List (see here). This list not only names a huge collection of heritage sites, but also designates which are in danger currently. Regardless of what you call them, these spots are the locations that define our shared human history…
The sad reality is that today, Cultural Heritage Sites across the globe struggle with neglect, natural disasters, war and general wear and tear from human activity. All these factors, paired with unprecedented shifts in travel and tourism thanks to COVID (see more here) have put an extra strain on the upkeep of these sacred locations.
This is especially true of those sites in the third world that lack the infrastructure, organization and resources to fully protect themselves. A large part of the struggle for those who run these sites is administrative. The reality is that with more resources (AKA money) many of these sites could be kept in much better condition. With the right technology and funds, sites that are struggling could be transformed into active research centers that are able preserve and share the wealth of our history.
But, what does all this have to do with NFTs?
Well, this is just one of many examples where the “culturally bankrupt” NFT has an opportunity to redeem itself. To go from peddling commodities to protecting our culture.
NFTs: Protectors of our History
So, just how can NFTs contribute to the protection of our Cultural Heritage Sites?
One way NFTs can help preserve cultural heritage sites is by providing a platform for the documentation and digitization of these sites. By creating a digital record of these destinations on blockchain technology, information can be stored in a decentralized, tamper-proof manner, ensuring the authenticity and accuracy of the data. This information can be used to create virtual tours and educational resources, allowing travelers to experience and learn about these sites without physically visiting them.
This virtual tour of these sites could be beneficial on multiple levels, generating more awareness among the general public about the sites existence, educating all those who are interested, and providing an additional revenue generating opportunity which can be used to fund protective and restorative measures.
Now, while we’ve established that some people look down on collectible NFT sales—what happens when we use their proceeds for a purpose? For instance, Heritage Site specific NFTs can be minted and sold as collectibles, with art that celebrates the significance of the site and proceeds going towards the maintenance and conservation of these sites. This provides a new way for travelers to support cultural heritage preservation, while also giving them a tangible, unique asset to commemorate their experience.
Finally, NFTs can help prevent the illicit trade of cultural heritage artifacts.This can be a serious issue especially amongst museums. By recording and tracking the ownership of cultural heritage assets on blockchain, it becomes easier to verify the authenticity of these items and prevent their illegal trade. This helps protect these precious artifacts from falling into the wrong hands, while also ensuring that their value is recognized and preserved.
Pipedream or New Application?
So, in conclusion, I think we can all see the case for NFT technology being used as a beneficial tool. One that doesn’t drain our culture but actually sustains it. And hopefully you can see how this technology can be used to the benefit of so many other charitable and humanitarian causes, Cultural Heritage Sites being just one example.
However, the question is, will we use our new technology this way? Like a young child NFTs and the Web3 space in general are full of buoyant potential… but it’s a matter of raising them well and shaping them into the future platforms we’d like to see.
If you like the sound of NFT art that both honors our World Wonders and contributes back to society at large, you should check out HelloVacay’s new Passport NFTs.
These feature a piece of art honoring one of many World Heritage Sites that will also get you VIP discounted rates at resorts and hotels across the world (along with other benefits like airport lounge access).
Our entry level Pilot Passport is completely free, and a percentage proceeds we do receive based on bookings go directly to building clean water wells for those in need!
Click here to learn more and get access to our free Pilot Passport.