The Importance of Seed Phrase Words in the Blockchain Environment
I’m starting off my article by giving you some information on blockchain technology to explain the concept behind my paintings. I understand that some people may not be interested in the technical explanations, in which case you can click here to go directly to my artwork.
As cryptocurrencies and digital collectibles gain traction, new investors and collectors may not fully comprehend the implications and responsibilities of storing their digital assets.
With the decentralization of data in the blockchain environment, the owner of digital assets is solely responsible for his or her digital wallet (for more info on this, please refer to my previous article on the subject). The owner’s private key which is the only access to his digital wallet is often a list of seed phrase words. These words were put in place to replace a long alphanumerical string, making it easier for the user to type out.
Depending on the digital wallet, a random combination of 12 to 24 words of this 2048 words long seed phrase list gets generated by the wallet and represents the only key to these assets. This combination of twelve words represents the probability of one out of 2,048¹² or the number 5 followed by 39 zeros, making it virtually impossible to retrieve and extremely safe.
Unlike centralized institutions like banks or governments who can verify your identity and reissue access, in blockchain technology, the seed phrase is the one and only access you have. If you lose it, it means you lose it permanently; no backdoor regardless of the value, whether it’s a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoins or a single digital painting. At the end of this blog post, I attached a few links with best practice tips.
Visualizing Seed Phrase Words
Seed phrases are the access key to digital wallets. Fascinated by the idea that electronic data can be used to generate shapes and colours, I decided to bring seed phrases to the public’s attention by visualizing the list of 2,048 seed phrase words.
Seed phrase words are between 3 and 8 characters long (average 5.4) and across the full list, their total phonetic distribution consists of 38% vowels, 3% semivowels and 59% consonants.
In my data visualization project, I created a grid of all 2,048 words represented by rectangles first. The width of each rectangle is derived from the number of each word’s characters. This created the following initial pattern.
Next, I took the phonetic division of each word in vowels, semivowels and consonants to generate relative values. These values were translated to the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) colour scheme and composed individual colours for each word.
Example: rhythm (word #1479 in the list) creates in an RGB to VSC translation (Vowels = red, Semivowels = green and Consonants = blue) a deep blue, while the word “achieve” (word #15 ) is translated accordingly into a purple colour.
With three colour values and three phonetic categories, I recreated this visualization for all six possible combinations. In the last step, a pie chart with the overall phonetic distribution of the seed phrase words was added in the background to indicate the applied translation of RGB colours in vowels, semivowels and consonants.
The pie chart can be read clockwise starting with red values being at the top, followed by green and blue values. Accordingly, in the example below vowels represent red, semivowels the green and consonants the blue values:
Depending on how the pie chart is orientated/aligned, one can conclude which colour-determining relation between the RGB colours scheme and the phonetic division (in vowels, semivowels and consonants) was applied.
The paintings are available as tokenized* digital artwork. The white (background) editions are issued as 5 rare available editions on KnownOrigin.io, the black (background) editions are single digital originals on SuperRare.co.
* tokenized means a permanent record of the digital artwork is written on the blockchain. The ownership and transfer of ownership can be traced.
More Info and Best Practice Tips for Your Seed Phrase Words
Gibson, Matt (Feb. 27th, 2018). Why is a Bitcoin wallet seed phrase so important? Retrieved from https://mycryptosaver.com/blog/post/why-is-a-bitcoin-wallet-seed-phrase-is-so-important
Frauenfelder, Mark (Oct. 29th, 2017). ‘I FORGOT MY PIN’: AN EPIC TALE OF LOSING $30,000 IN BITCOIN. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/i-forgot-my-pin-an-epic-tale-of-losing-dollar30000-in-bitcoin/
Bitcoin Exchange Guide News Team (June 27th, 2018). Crypto Mnemonic Seed Phrases: Bitcoin Wallet Recovery & Private Keys Guide. Retrieved from https://bitcoinexchangeguide.com/crypto-mnemonic-seed-phrases-bitcoin-wallet-recovery-private-keys-guide/
Agrawal, Harsh (Sep. 19th, 2017). How To Keep Your Recovery Seed Safe And Secure. Retrieved from https://coinsutra.com/keep-recovery-seed-safe-secure/
Dale, Oliver (June 4th, 2018). How To Keep Your Wallet Recovery Seed Safe & Cryptocurrency Secure. Retrieved from https://blockonomi.com/keep-recovery-seed-safe/