The Most Important NFT Ever? - TokenSmart NFT Humpday Report #38

Welcome to the 38th issue of the NFT Humpday Report, a weekly column covering and providing embedded analysis on the NFT economy’s biggest topics du jour. Brought to you by WIP meetup collaborators and nft42 community hub TokenSmart.

This week the NFT ecosystem’s abuzz anew after prolific auction house Sotheby’s announced plans to auction off none other than Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s source code for the world wide web as an NFT! 

Who’s Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Also known as TimBL, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist responsible for creating “the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale," per his 2016 Turing Award citation.

The context: On Tuesday Sotheby’s revealed it would be kicking off a one-week auction for the unprecedented digital artifact, titled This Changes Everything, on behalf of Berners-Lee. The auction is set to start on June 23rd, and the bidding for the NFT will begin at $1k USD. Upon the auction’s completion all earnings will go to the World Wide Web Foundation, which was co-founded by Berners-Lee in 2009 to support the Web as an open public good.

In Sotheby’s description of the piece, the firm notes:

“Until very recently, selling a digital-born artifact was not a possibility, however the advent of NFTs has now made this possible, allowing the buyer to prove that the files on offer here are the original, digital- born manuscript for the greatest and most consequential invention of modern times, direct from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, their creator.”

The NFT: This Changes Everything will exist as an ERC-721 token on Ethereum and have four fundamental offerings. These offerings are:

  • The time-stamped code files that were pivotal to the Web’s creation, including “the 3 languages and protocols invented by Sir Tim that remain fundamental to the Web today: HTML, HTTP and URIs.”

  • A 30-minute visualization of the Web’s source code being written. 

  • An SVG poster of the source code. 

  • A file letter written by Berners-Lee in June 2021 in which he reflects “upon the code and his process of creating it.” 

Sotheby’s continues NFT streak: Both the world’s powerhouse auction-houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, have been ramping up their NFT efforts lately. With its recent “Natively Digital” curated NFT auctions, Sotheby’s seemed to have decisively taken the lead in these institutions’ NFT culture race. The auction of This Changes Everything, an unprecedented and frankly immediately legendary digital artifact, acutely solidifies that lead even further. 

What TimBL’s saying:

  • In Sotheby’s announcement, Berners-Lee noted: “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.”

  • At the conclusion of the letter included with the NFT, Berners-Lee wrote: “It has been fun to go back and look over the code. It is amazing to see the things that those relatively few lines of code, with the help of an amazing growing gang of collaborators across the planet, stayed enough on track to become what the web is now.”

Zooming out: Foundation has been making waves in recent months for facilitating auctions of high-profile memes. At their core these memes are digital artifacts. Of course TimBL’s This Changes Everything isn’t a meme, but it is in that genre of digital artifacts, so it’s interesting to see Sotheby’s branching out from cryptoart into the domain of NFT artifacts, too. Expect to see much more of this all around going forward as the world continues to wake up to the possibilities of digital artifacts, and that may start happening faster now that one of the most important NFTs ever has just arrived.

Thanks for reading the 38th NFT Humpday Report! Check back this time next week for more excellent NFT ecosystem coverage! Cheers 🌠