Sir Tim Berners-Lee is putting an NFT of the original ‘Source Code for the WWW’ up for auction at Sotheby’s.
32 years after inventing the “WorldWideWeb,” the first “hypermedia browser/editor,” Sir Tim Berners-Lee is now auctioning off an NFT representing the original source code.
The Sotheby’s auction began earlier this week with an opening bid of $1,000. At the time of writing, the 41st bid is $2.2 million, with six days to go. The sale will be completed on June 30, and proceeds will go to various charity causes at the discretion of Sir Tim and his wife, Rosemary Leith.
The lot comprises of four elements as one NFT:
- Original archive of dated and time-stamped files containing the source code, written between 3 October 1990 and 24 August 1991. These files contain code with approximately 9,555 lines, the contents of which include implementations of the three languages and protocols invented by Sir Tim; HTML (Hypertext Markup Language); HTTP (Hyper Transfer Protocol); and URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers), as well as the original HTML documents that instructed early web users on how to use the application
- Animated visualization of the code being written (Video, black & white, silent), lasting 30 minutes 25 seconds
- A Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) representation of the full code (A0 841mm wide by 1189 mm high), created by Sir Tim from the original files using Python, with a graphic representation of his physical signature at lower right
- A letter written in the README.md file (in “markdown” format) by Sir Tim in June of 2021, reflecting upon the code and his process of creating it
Responding to criticism, Sir Tim said that what he is doing is “totally aligned with the values of the web” and that the free nature of the web won’t be affected. “I’m not even selling the source code,” he explains in a recent Guardian report: “I’m selling a picture that I made, with a Python programme that I wrote myself, of what the source code would look like if it was stuck on the wall and signed by me.”
In the same report, Sir Tim likens the auction to “selling an NFT of a poster” or “selling a book” and that net neutrality shouldn’t play a role in this. Sir Tim has famously never claimed the rights to his revolutionary invention. The winning bidder of this auction still won’t have the right to profit off of it.
Sotheby’s also assures that the environmental impact generated by minting the token will be “negligible” because it will pay to offset the carbon footprint.
Commenting on NFTs and the technology that drives them, Sir Tim said that they are “the most appropriate means of ownership that exists. They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web.”
NFTs might be losing some steam, with some saying that the market has crashed, but recent NFT auctions prove that this space still has a lot to give – with digital artwork being sold for six, seven, and eight figures in some recent high-profile auctions.
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