One of the world’s largest brokers of fine art and collectables, Sotheby’s recently announced that it will be auctioning off the original World Wide Web as an NFT, as part of its “This Changed Everything” auction. The single-edition digital artefacts will include four pieces: the original 1990 source code, an animation of the code being written, a letter written by Berners-Lee, and a digital poster of the full code.
“Three decades ago, I created something which, with the subsequent help of a huge number of collaborators across the world, has been a powerful tool for humanity,” British scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the internet, said in a statement. “While I do not make predictions about the future, I sincerely hope its use, knowledge, and potential will remain open and available to us all to continue to innovate, create and initiate the next technological transformation that we cannot yet imagine.”
Berners-Lee feels that non-fungible tokens are ‘the ideal way to package the origins behind the web’ and ‘the most appropriate means of ownership that exists’. And Sotheby’s agrees:
“Using blockchain technology, NFTs endow digital files with provable scarcity. While every piece of digital media is infinitely reproducible, an NFT is not,” Sotheby’s explains. “There is only one NFT and one corresponding owner. Acting as a form of certification for digital files, an NFT confers uniqueness onto those files and makes it possible for them to be owned. As the most digitally native means of ownership that exists, it is the ideal way to package this representation of the source code for the web, representing a perfect fit between medium and content.
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This NFT is historic and singular, but, the code for the web and its use, knowledge, power, the potential will remain open and available to us all to continue to innovate, create and initiate the next technological transformation that will be built upon what we see today, that we cannot yet imagine.”
Celebrities who have recently cashed in o the sale of their NFTs include model Cara Delevingne, who dropped an NFT replica of her vagina, with all proceeds going towards LGBTQIA+ organisations, supermodel Kate Moss released a three-part NFT series of intimate artworks, and Andy Warhol’s 1985 preserved files sold as NFTs for a total of $3.4 million.
According to the Sotheby’s website, bidding for Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web artefacts will start at $1,000 (£710) on June 23 at Sotheby’s, with all proceeds going towards initiatives which Berners-Lee and his wife, Rosemary Leith, support. Take a look at what the work includes below and find more trending content, right here.
Sotheby’s: Tim Berners-Lee’s Source Code for the World Wide Web 1990-1991
“Invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, the “World Wide Web” application was the first hypermedia browser/editor, allowing users to create and navigate links between files across a network of computers. It was written in the Objective C programming language, using the Interface Builder on a NeXT computer, a highly influential and innovative computer designed by Steve Jobs in between the time he was forced out of Apple in 1985 and when he rejoined in 1997.” – Sotheby’s
World Wide Web NFT includes:
- The 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