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Mnemonic Seed Stories

Private Keys

Storing your private key for a cryptocurrency wallet is a pain. Losing your private key means losing access to your account, forever. And storing your private key can be a risky business in space rife with hacking & theft.

In an ideal world, a private key would be:

  • Easy to read
  • Easy to store, manage & secure
  • Easy to memorise

This would allow you to store your key on paper in a safe location, and remember it like a password — for quick access to your account anywhere in the world.

But, private keys look like this:

xprv9s21ZrQH143K47JgogRrQ6WBB9WVrtPWKZGwHVnCvJ8Uyd6iSpxcVp7oy DyQp6L37LpX22A8XkSfv686p2JZD54Fpr7ySzddz9gqTK2eAqj

A difficult to read, hard to store & impractical to memorise string of numbers & letters.

Mnemonic Seed Phrases

Thankfully, mnemonic seed phrases are a great word-based representation of a difficult-to-read private key, allowing users to easily store & retrieve their keys.

For example, the BIP32 root key mentioned above is expressed as:

chicken reward swim chef tray antenna island stand cotton also reveal tomorrow mix canvas spike

Unfortunately, even when presented with a friendly string of words, users are unlikely to take the time to remember their phrase. Sure, it’s easy to write down & retrieve, but not remember. The jumble of words is too long, incoherent & unwieldy. Thus, the humble Mnemonic Seed Phrase does not fit all three of our criteria — well, not at least by itself.

Human Memory

Humans are terrible at remembering seemly random numbers & letters. But when converted in a story with pictures, people are able to accomplish insane feats of memory. In 2015, a Japanese man by the name of Akira Haraguchi remembered 111,700 digits of Pi by converting numbers into syllables and then turning those syllables into stories.

Introducing Mnemonic Seed Stories

When presented with a Mnemonic Seed Phrase, users are usually prompted to write down their phrase on paper and then assemble a jumble of words on screen in the right order to “prove” they have remembered or at least written the phrase down.

My idea would be to generate and assemble a coherent story with simple, yet novel, pictures from words in your seed phrase. The user interface would walk you through your story like a book. After a few minutes of story repetition, you’d be asked to recall your phrase, only preceding if you have answered correctly.

Using the above example, a story could look something like this: A chicken is rewarded by a swimming chef with a tray of antennas around an island… and so on.


Generating a seed phrase story with Bitcoins BIP39 spec would be tricky, hence the reason I cut my story short. It’s very hard to generate a coherent story with a random list of words. Some predictability is important with heavy use of simple objects, animals & adjectives — which reduces security of the seed story.

Additionally, building a timeline of images to match words & adjectives would be very difficult. For example, a chef with a tray of antennas. The best representation of this phrase would literally be a cartoon of a chef holding a tray of antennas. This step is not essential — Users could be presented with different images and left to imagine what they’d look like together.

How To Build?

With the challenges presented above, it seems the easiest way to build a mnemonic seed story would be to randomly select & combine small predefined plots, and randomly substitute words with different characters, objects and adjectives. However, there’s a question over security. Using this method may require a very long story and subsequently nullify the reason for generating a story in the first place.

I would love to see an AI based solution to the these challenges.