A nonfungible token (NFT) representing Tim Berners-Lee's original source code of the world wide web is to be auctioned off by Sothebys. The audience for this one is perhaps savvy enough to know that the NFT itself is as meaningful as an International Star Registry certificate, so there are various sweeteners on offer, such as a letter from Tim and a video recreation of the "code being written."
The code was written by the British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee between 1990 and 1991, and will be tied to an NFT, a smart contract that proves the code's authenticity and unique right of ownership. The files can be accessed by the buyer through the NFT, which will contain links where the files can be viewed online or downloaded to a computer. The winning bidder will also receive a letter from Berners-Lee "reflecting on the code and the process of creating it," according to a release, along with a 30 minute-long video, created by a graphic designer, that shows the code being written.
The buyer will also receive a "digital poster" that contains all 9,555 lines, and a graphic of Berners-Lee's physical signature. The starting bid will be $1,000.
A statement from Berners-Lee:
"NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artefact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists," he writes. "They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web."
Cassandra Hatton, the global head of Sotheby's science and pop culture department, lets the cat out of the bag:
"There are very many things that have NFTs slapped on that make no sense to me," she says. "But this happens to be something that would otherwise be impossible to sell, or to have any ownership over."
The web never died. It just turned into a tulip.