If you are reading this article, you are probably doing it on the World Wide Web. And if you want to own a piece of web history, you now have the option of purchasing a copy of its original code in the form of a non-fungible token, or NFT.
Tuesday, the Sotheby’s auction house ad that he would accept offers for the original time-stamped files created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist who invented the Web in 1989. These 9,555 lines of code are packaged in the shape of a TVN, a certified digital asset that is stored on a blockchain and can be traded and valued. The historical code collection includes the three protocols that serve as the foundation of the Web – Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) – as well as the original instructions written by Berners-Lee. in HTML for the very first Internet users.
“This unique and singular auction will celebrate Sir Tim’s groundbreaking achievement, in which collectors will finally have the opportunity, thanks to the NFT format, to own the ultimate digitally born artifact,” said the vice president and global manager science and pop culture at Sotheby’s. , Cassandra Hatton, in a statement. The online auction, called “This Changed Everything,” runs June 23-30. Auctions start at $ 1,000.
The auction comes as NFTs have entered the mainstream. In recent months, the world has seen the emergence of NFT marketplaces, the sale of a New York Times column in NFT form, the invention of NFT Perfumes, and even the existence of NFT art created by a toilet paper brand. As people become more comfortable and excited about this blockchain-based digital platform, it remains to be seen whether the concept is truly a valuable new way to preserve and sell artifacts online, or whether it is simply an over-the-top Internet gadget. Auctioning a copy of the web’s original source code in token form seems to be proof that, at least in some applications, DTV can be more than a digital hit; they can serve as a means of preserving and commodifying pieces of web history.
The code offered for sale is particularly historic. This represents a fundamental shift in the way we use technology to communicate, and the web still serves as the basis for much of what we do online today. But since the original code for the web has long been in the public domain, the auction winner will receive an NFT that includes time-stamped files of the visual source code as well as a digital letter from Berners-Lee, an animation of the code. original and a digital “poster” that includes a depiction of Berners-Lee’s signature. The product will be stored on the ethereum blockchain and, like other NFTs, will be completely unique.
“This seems to be the way to create a shortage of items that otherwise wouldn’t be, like digital art,” Ian milligan, a history professor who focuses on web archives at the University of Waterloo, told Recode. “It almost seems like it’s not just the source code, but really this complete package that a collector could really treasure to have.”
Until the auction is over, we won’t know how many people are willing to bid on this NFT version of internet history, but the auction is funding initiatives that Berners-Lee and his wife support. , according to Sotheby’s. Recent sales of some NFT artwork show that some are willing to pay millions of dollars for these digital artifacts.
In April, the first NFT auction at Sotheby’s, which featured various digital artwork, reported nearly $ 17 million. The auction house has since seen multi-million dollar sales from NFT, and at least one more auction is planned down the line.
Other auction houses have had even greater success. In March, Christie’s sold an NFT for over $ 69 million.
There seems to be a particular interest in NFTs related to the history of the Internet. Sotheby’s sold a version of what is supposed to be the very first NFT, which premiered in 2014, for $ 1.4 million. In March, the first tweet from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was auctioned as NFT for nearly $ 3 million, and an NFT from the famous YouTube video “Charlie Bitten My Finger”, went for a winning bid of just over $ 760,000 (its new owner said the video will stay on the streaming service). Just days before Sotheby’s announced its Berners-Lee auction, an NFT of the original image of the dog meme ‘Doge’, which also inspired the viral cryptocurrency dogecoin, sold for $ 4 million.
Today, Berners-Lee wants to support this way of storing and selling versions of Internet history. In a statement announcing the auction, he called NFTs “the latest playful creations in this area and the most appropriate means of ownership that exist.” By auctioning off this piece of history in NFT form, the father of the web is lending some of his own credibility to the still nascent technology – and the idea that it could become more than a fad.