About the Author

Sam Simmons is co-founder and CEO at MintPass, a travel inspiration app powered by digital souvenir collecting. He invests in Web3 as a partner at Dream Ventures, and is an active Cryptopunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club community member. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Decrypt.

Real life experiences say as much about who we are as what we’ve done or accomplished. It’s the workouts you’ve completed at CrossFit as a fitness enthusiast. It’s the Comic-Cons you’ve attended as a Marvel fan. It’s the raids you’ve completed in World of Warcraft as a dedicated gamer. As a descriptive, the passion itself is inherently limited in nature; it’s the experiences that truly drive identity.

But in the Web3 space, which flaunts digital identity as a buzz phrase, we’ve failed to effectively connect our real-world activities to online presence through on-chain mechanisms—truly capturing our holistic selves across virtual mediums.

In the Web3 realm, digital identity must become more than just changing your social media avatar to a new JPEG you bought to drum up engagement on the X app. Time and again we see one-dimensional attempts at bringing passion audiences on-chain through identity mechanisms, and these attempts consistently fall short due to walled garden ecosystems that lack depth, reach, and connectivity.

The behavioral flywheel


The way forward lies in broadening our approach to digital identity by focusing on real-life experiences rather than tech-centric labels.

The question isn't just how to record or display proofs of experience, but also why we should engage in this foreign behavior in the first place, and what to do with them once acquired. There's a need for a behavioral flywheel where real-world passions power digital identity, enriching both the online and offline aspects of life.

The trillion-dollar question remains: why does this matter, and how does it drive the mainstream adoption of crypto?

What can be easy to brush aside as novelty in pursuit of more technical solutions built on blockchain is actually so much more, given its potential to deliver real value to mainstream consumers. Significantly greater focus must be applied to the enrichment of existing behaviors and activities in key passion areas, over trying to convince non-native consumers with complicated tech—no matter how loudly we yell at them about the merits of decentralization.

While profile picture collections may have been a starting point for NFTs, their evolution is starting to take shape in a way that gives greater depth to the tokenization of real-world experiences.


There's still a considerable distance to cover, but the possibilities for how Web3 can revolutionize our concept of identity—and the rewarding experiences it stands to unlock across brands, artists, and communities—are truly exciting.

As we move closer to more integrated and meaningful digital presences, it's this layering of experiences around identity that holds the most promise for onboarding the next wave of crypto adopters.

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