An NFT of the original source code for the world wide web, written by its inventor Tim Berners-Lee, has sold for $5.4 million at Sotheby’s in an online auction, the auction house stated on Wednesday. Earlier this year, Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet ever for almost $3 million.
After the digital sale happened, there were some inaccuracies in the code noticed by a security researcher, Mikko Hypponen. Although the auction included 10,000 lines of source code from the initial web browser, in addition to a video of the code being put into the computer, it turns out the code was not correct. The code flashed during Sotheby’s auction included some HTML-encoded mistakes — replacing the angled brackets “< >” with “< >.” “The NFT consists of multiple components, and the code seems to be fine everywhere else, but the video seems to have all special characters encoded,” said Hypponen in a report from The Next Web. “Such code would not work and could not be compiled.”
However, the software used during the video display could be the reason for the errors in the code. Irrespective of the situation, some people think blunder is actually multiplying NFT’S value in the market. “These NFT things are all about ‘owning a piece of internet history,'” said BBC reporter Joe Tidy. “So could this ‘artifact’ actually be worth even more now because of the cock-up?” This could be how it goes, but it also raises the question: Why do we ascribe physical value to something that only exists digitally?
An NFT is a form of a crypto asset that shows ownership for a digital object such as a drawing, animation, music, picture, or video. NFT has garnered attention from all over the world, with the NFT artworks, music, and internet memes selling for millions of dollars. As it is distinctive, you can sell it and use blockchain to record its ownership. It is no different than possessing a piece of artwork. It would remain in the digital territory.
“One of the most historically significant digital artifacts ever sold, an NFT of the source code for the Web has brought $5.4 million,” Sotheby said in a tweet.
In 1989, physicist-turned-computer-scientist Berners-Lee envisioned a system of information sharing that would allow scientists to access data from anywhere in the world. While working at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Berners-Lee created the first web browser and server. Determined to make the web an open space, Berners-Lee did not patent his program but left the world wide web (internet) freely available to everyone, contributing to its spread.
The NFT displayed for auction included about 10,000 lines of code written in 1990-1991, a 30-minute animated visualization of the code, a digital poster of the code, and a digital letter written in June 2021 where Berners-Lee reflects on his work.
Endorsing his right to create the NFT, Berners-Lee explained his viewpoint in an interview with The Guardian. “I’m not even selling the source code. I’m selling a picture that I made, with a Python program that I wrote myself, of what the source code would look like if it was stuck on the wall and signed by me.”
Running on blockchain technology, NFT might have drawn the rage of environmentalists for the high energy consumption. As a result, auction houses engaged in the sale of NFT’s promise to offset the carbon emissions resulting from the creation and sale of NFTs. But this won’t be enough; the creation of sustainable crypto-art is essential.