What is an Atomic NFT?

Atomic NFTs are a fundamental part of the permaweb. When an Atomic NFT is created, the media file, smart contract, and metadata are fused together to form a unique and universally identifiable digital asset stored permanently on a decentralized storage network. These characteristics set Atomic NFTs apart from traditional, non-standardized NFTs.

How are Atomic NFTs different from other NFTs?

NFTs are an essential element of web3 technology, making it possible for anyone to own a piece of the internet. However, the term NFT or “Non-Fungible Token” can mislead people into thinking that any NFT is one with the represented media file stored on-chain. It’s not. When you purchase a traditional image-based NFT, a blockchain token is sent to your wallet. However, the token in your wallet does not contain the media file. Instead, the token points to an image stored in another location on the internet, leaving you holding a cryptographic token that represents ownership of an untethered media file that exists somewhere (likely not on a blockchain).

This has and will continue to lead to problems for traditional NFTs. For example, if the server that holds a media file goes down, so does the media represented by the NFT, leaving the owner holding a token that points to nothing. Alternatively, someone could switch out the original image file for another image, forcing the NFT “token” to point to the new photo. In one recent example, an artist named “neitherconfirm” changed the media files referenced by 26 of his NFTs to stock images of rugs. The artist later commented, “All discussions about the value of NFTs are meaningless as long as the token is not inseparable from the artwork itself.”

The Atomic NFT standard makes the scenarios mentioned above impossible by combining all of the elements that make up an NFT into one unique digital asset. The result is an Atomic NFT that accurately represents the media file and token as one inseparable item. This means that Atomic NFTs cannot be rug-pulled, deleted, censored, or re-routed. Once they are created, Atomic NFTs persist as immutable digital artifacts that can be traded, sold, and appreciated without the limitations imposed by time and decay.

Beyond Atomic NFTs

By combining the media, metadata, and smart contract into a self-contained piece of software that persists immutably on a blockchain, a new kind of programmable digital entity has been created. With just a few lines of embedded JavaScript, an Atomic NFT can check its smart contract state and update itself each time a new record (e.g. amount of traffic tracked) is uploaded. Although these altered states may be permanent or fluid, the NFT itself remains immutable while reflecting the dynamic attributes programmed by its creator. To see an example of this kind of dynamic Atomic NFT in action, take a look at DKleine’s Atomic Zombies.

The many advantages Atomic NFTs have over traditional first-generation NFTs make them an ideal foundation for the decentralized web. By making secure individual ownership of each piece of web3 possible, they become much more than simply a superior NFT. While we are still exploring the potential use cases for this exciting new technology, we would love to hear your ideas. If you would like to contribute to the Atomic NFT standard, please check out the Koii Network GitHub.

Atomic NFT Attributes

How to create an Atomic NFT

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