Sunday, April 14, 2024

What Tim Berners-Lee’s $5 Million NFT Sales Mean to Web History

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee The famous source code is provided to the World Wide Web for free. But now he has raised more than $5.4 million by auctioning an autographed copy as an auction item. Non-fungible token, or NFT, Through Sotheby’s auction.

Berners-Lee’s NFT join Eclectic company, Including Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, New York Times Column, a flavor of Pringles potato chips called “CryptoCrisp”, lifetime coupon codes from online kratom retailers, leases for shared spaces in the Mission District of San Francisco, direct pornographic messages allegedly from stigmatized actor Armie Hammer, and 52 minutes of farting Audio files.But this one was recently added to Endless list of bookmarkable NFTs It is an artifact exuding solemnity, and a souvenir of a self-proclaimed Internet pioneer. Berners-Lee wrote the code while working at CERN in Switzerland in the early 1990s and created what he called the “World Wide Web” from the NeXT computer. In addition to a copy of the code itself, the auction also includes a 30-minute animation describing the code being written, a scalable graphic vector representing the complete code, and a letter written by Berners-Lee this year reflecting the situation at the time write the code. (Berners-Lee will donate the proceeds, but did not specify where he plans to use the funds.)

For Internet history lovers, this is a special moment. The sale provides an opportunity to feel the ownership of an important piece of history. But it also blends two very different technological optimisms. The code written by Berners-Lee has not been protected by copyright or otherwise protected by intellectual property law since 1993, just a few years after its creation. “He pushed CERN to release it as a completely public domain,” said Marc Weber, curator of the Computer History Museum. “Some people think this is essential to making the web successful.” This is the fundamental moment of the free software movement, and an example of how innovators can push history forward by choosing cooperation rather than profit. Now, decades later, this iconic free code has finally begun to monetize.

Or some kind. What Berners-Lee sells is not the actual code, but the equivalent of an autographed copy. The rise of the NFT gave Berners-Lee the opportunity to raise funds for his estate without trying to recover the intellectual property rights, which is impossible at this point anyway. Thanks to the NFT, Berners-Lee can keep his code in the public domain and at the same time induce someone to purchase a certificate of ownership. Does this commodification directly run counter to the spirit of the open source movement? um, yes. But there is also: If the code itself is still in the public domain, does it matter, especially when there is so much money wandering around?

Berners-Lee doesn’t think so.he tell protector Last week’s sales did not change the openness of the network or the code itself. “I don’t even sell the source code. I’m selling a picture I made and a Python program I wrote myself. If it were posted on the wall and signed by me, what the source code would look like,” he said.

But the impact of this sale extends beyond the World Wide Web.As the archivist Rick Prelinger wrote Recent column For WIRED, “Nothing has greater cultural and ethical impact on archives than NFT.” Prelinger believes that monetizing important historical assets may make it more difficult for genealogists and other financially capable scholars to obtain important documents. Weber also has these concerns, because the Computer History Museum does not have the strong financial resources of independent encrypted millionaire collectors; if the code generation as a NFT becomes a standard, then the collection of historically significant copies of the code for the museum’s software library may become more difficult.In some NFT sales, the original digital artifacts were subsequently removed from the Internet-for example, when the creator of the popular meme video “Charlie Bites My Finger” Sold clips As an NFT, they subsequently deleted the original from YouTube.


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