Funny how hyperlink-famous Sir Tim Berners-Lee loves NFTs, glorified hyperlinks • The Register
Update Internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee is auctioning off a link to his very first web browser and server source code as a non-fungible token.
Yes, another NFT. These are tokens that are embedded in a blockchain and can be sold for millions and traded between traders. Buyers really don’t get much. Typically, the data they paid for isn’t actually stored on a blockchain, they just get a token, and the tokens include a link to the material they represent that anyone can see and access. This is a receipt stored in an append-only database. You basically have bragging rights for things that are public.
And in the case of Sir Tim’s code, it’s definitely public: you can find at least his first WWW browser code here free, web server code here for free, and the first website he created at CERN has been recreated here free.
Like all fashions, the value of NFTs has gone up and down. They peaked in March when digital artist Beeple sold what is, essentially, a link to a giant JPEG as NFT for $69 million in cryptocurrency… albeit to an NFT fund manager . However, the enthusiasm seems to have died down. No NFT has managed to bring in so many since.
Still, Sir Tim is ready to give him a punt. He peddles a link to the code he wrote on a NeXT computer that became the backbone of the web as we know it today (see links above). The source was written between October 3, 1990 and August 24, 1991 in Objective C, and it totals some 9,000 lines of code. It contains its implementations of HTML, HTTP, URIs, etc., which laid the foundation for today’s web. And, snark apart, as an Internet publication, we appreciate that contribution to the world.
But that’s not all. The buyer will also have the bragging rights of a black and white video [what, this one, for free? – ed.] streaming the code line by line – which, we note, contains many typos due to the encoding of angle brackets in ObjC to HTML – and a snapshot of the entire code base as SVG, and, finally, a README note written by Sir Tim.
Sotheby’s will organize the auction, bidding is open now and starts from $1,000. The auction will end on June 30.
“Sir Tim has thought about the web over the past 30 years, the good and the bad,” said Mitzi Mina, director of Sotheby’s press office in London. The register. “It allows us to celebrate creation while reflecting on the past, present and future of the Web. Sir Tim sees this as selling an autograph copy of a book.
Sir Tim seems to be a fan of NFTs and blockchain technology in general. He praised them as a way to “avoid central control”, according to at the Financial Times. Money from the sale of the source code link will go towards “initiatives which Sir Tim and Lady Rosemary Leith Berners-Lee support”, we are told. So it’s basically a charity auction.
“Three decades ago, I created something which, with the subsequent help of a large number of collaborators around the world, has been a powerful tool for humanity,” he said in a press release.
“For me, the best aspect of the Web has been the spirit of collaboration. Although I make no predictions about the future, I sincerely hope that its use, knowledge and potential will remain open and available to all of us. in order to continue innovating, creating and initiating the next technological transformation, which we cannot yet imagine.
“NFTs, whether they are works of art or a digital artifact like this, are the latest playful creations in this field and the most appropriate means of ownership there is. They are the means ideal to pack the origins behind the web.” ®
Updated to add
On June 30, the NFT was sold for $5,434,500 and will be given away.