Founder of World Wide Web Berners-Lee to sell source code as NFT

Sotheby’s will be auctioning Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s original time stamped files

Tech Desk June 18, 2021

Founder Tim Berners-Lee, is auctioning the source code for the World Wide Web as an NFT. Sotheby’s will be auctioning Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s original time stamped files, signed by him, in what will be Sotheby's first digital-born artefact to come to auction.

The NFT will be offered in a standalone online auction titled ‘This Changed Everything’. The NFT is being offered directly by Sir Tim Berners-Lee himself, giving people the opportunity to reflect with Sir Tim on the bare bones of the architecture of the web’s creation. The sale will open from 23 – 30 June, with bidding starting at $1,000. The sale will benefit initiatives that Sir Tim and Lady Berners-Lee support.

The NFT – completely unique on the Ethereum blockchain – is composed of four elements; the original time-stamped files containing the source code written by Sir Tim; an animated visualization of the code; a letter written by Sir Tim reflecting on the code and the process of creating it ; as well as a digital “poster” of the full code created by Sir Tim from the original files using Python including a graphic of his physical signature; all digitally signed.

Father of 'World Wide Web' wants to remake cyberspace

The files referenced by the NFT contain code with approximately 9,555 lines, whose contents include implementations of the three languages and protocols invented by Sir Tim that remain fundamental to the World Wide Web today; HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), and URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers), as well as original HTML documents that instructed early web users on how to use the application.

 “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. For me, the best bit about the web has been the spirit of collaboration. 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. 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. They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web”, said Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Explaining why he’s offering the sale as an NFT Lee said:

“Why an NFT? Well, it's a natural thing to do as when you're a computer scientist and when you write code and have been for many years. It feels right to digitally sign my autograph on a completely digital artefact.”


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