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Web founder Berners-Lee to auction source code as NFT

Written by on June 15, 2021

The creator of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is selling off the original code used to create the modern internet as an NFT.
NFTs are a form of unique ownership for digital-only items and do not necessarily include copyright control.
They have also been widely criticised as a money-making scheme and bad for the environment.
Some have expressed surprise at the news given that Sir Tim famously refused to patent his invention.
The sale is being handled by Sotheby’s auction house, and the money made will be put towards causes chosen by Sir Tim and his wife, Sotheby’s said.
Sir Tim invented the world wide web – the main modern way we use the internet – in 1989.
He proposed a way of linking together different pieces of information stored on the early internet through hyperlinks, and built the first web browser and web server.
The first web page described the idea: “Aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents.”
Sotheby’s is auctioning off a collection of four different items as a single digital NFT.
They include “the original time-stamped files” of the source code written for the project, “an animated visualisation” of that code, a letter from Sir Tim about the process, and a “digital poster” of the code created by him.
In all, the files represent nearly 10,000 lines of written code.
Sir Tim has never sought to make money directly from his creation, and the web remains an open standard. Cern, the research organisation Sir Tim worked for at the time, relinquished all its rights to the technology and put it in the open domain in 1993.
The value of the code is arguably in its historical significance, and the fact that this digital auction is endorsed by its creator and “digitally signed” as authentic.
Sotheby’s is advertising the collection as “the only signed copy of the code for the first web browser in existence”, in a manner similar to the way handwritten journals of a famous figure might be sold.


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