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Visual Memorable Seed Phrase

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Visual Memorable Seed Phrase

Can you please help improve my thinking on any of the below?

A crypto (e.g. bitcoin) private key is a 256-bit number (a series of 256 digits that are all 0 or 1).

Private keys are usually derived (via 1-way hash) from a randomly-generated 24-word Bitcoin BIP39 Mnemonic Seed Phrase (which is human readable).

Sample seed phrase:

decade lobster engine jar matter life forum rule push stay slab manual pretty inflict future spare veteran voice biology problem glass derive bind enable 

The words all come from this list of 2,048 words: https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0039/english.txt

Using the 2,048 word list of BIP-39, when constructing a seed phrase, each word adds 11 bits of entropy to the phrase, ensuring that a 24-word seed phrase contains enough bits (264 bits) to securely encode a 256-bit private key along with an 8-bit checksum.

One of the cool features of crypto is that wherever you are, no matter which borders you walk across, and no matter which companies are dominant in the world, you have control of property just via your knowledge of your private key.

Most people (other than those leaving their crypto on an exchange that holds their private keys for them) use a hardware device like Ledger to manage their private key(s), and for convenience they can access it with just a short memorizable PIN.

But if the hardware device gets lost or destroyed, that PIN is useless. The only way to “recover” your assets is via the private key (or a version of it, such as the 24-word seed phrase).

So people try to find ways to back up that seed phrase, such as using Crypto Steel and then burying it somewhere private or putting it in a safe deposit box.

But I imagine that some (relatively few, though) people want to memorize their seed phrase and have NO physical or digital evidence of it anywhere.

I never hear about anyone attempting to memorize their ordered 24-word phrase.

It would be like trying to memorize 24 2-word pairs, since you’re really memorizing words plus their positions in the list.

Very difficult to do when the words come randomly from a huge list of all types of words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc).

It would probably require the skills of a world-record-holding memorization expert.

Hypothesis:

We could generate a more memorable seed phrase if instead of 24 2-word pairs we use 10 5-word phrases, as long as those phrases are more visually and viscerally memorable (based on some story you can make up for yourself).

Inspired by the lyrics of the "12 Days of Christmas" song, which is 12 3-word phrases (e.g. “5” “golden” “rings”, “4” “calling” “birds”, “3” “French” “hens”). The approach I’ve come up with so far is to think of your list of 10 as gifts that you’re giving to 10 people.

The 5 phrase parts are:

  • quantity
  • color
  • item
  • nationality of the recipient
  • profession of the recipient

Your “seed phrase” would then be very visual.

A tool would create 10 labeled images for you.

The partial proof of concept below is not what it would actually look like.

The 4th image in the following example would contain 4 brass-colored icons of a drill, the Brazilian flag, and the icon for a coach.

Visual Memorable Seed Phrase (partial proof of concept)

It’s still daunting to memorize 10 5-word phrases, even with pictures.

And most of us won’t even bother trying.

But I wonder if some people might really appreciate this.

To get enough entropy, there are:

  • 10 phrases
  • 40 colors (the most popular ones)
  • 400+ objects
  • 137 countries (ones with highest GDP)
  • 40 professions

Please let me know if there are any problems (security or otherwise) with my approach.

If people think this could be useful, I can finish building out what I've started and share it.

P.S. If "brain wallet" is defined as a seed phrase that was decided by a human (rather than generated randomly with high entropy), this is not that.

submitted by /u/rwhal06
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