Tim Berners-Lee has defended his decision to auction an NFT (non-fungible token), which is the source code on the web, and compared the sale with a signed book or a lecture tour.
The creator of the World Wide Web announced last week its decision to create and sell the digital asset through the auction house Sotheby’s. In the auction, which starts on Wednesday and runs for a week, collectors have the opportunity to bid on a bunch of items, including 10,000 lines of source code for the original web browser, a Berners-Lee digital poster depicting the code Letter from him and an animated video showing the code entered.
“This is fully in line with the values ââof the web,” Berners-Lee told the Guardian. “The questions I have, they said, ‘Oh, that doesn’t sound like the free and open web.’ Wait a minute, the web is just as free and open as ever. The core codes and protocols on the web are still license-free. I don’t sell the web – you don’t have to pay money to follow links.
âI don’t even sell the source code. I’m selling a picture I took with a self-written Python program of what the source code would look like if it were stuck on the wall and signed by me.
âIf they thought it was inappropriate for me to sell an NFT of a poster, what if I sell a book? I do things like this that are about money, but the free and open web is still free and open. And we still have to fight every now and then to keep it free and open, fight for net neutrality and so on. “
Sotheby’s has not made a sales estimate for the NFT, arguing that the token is a unique item that is different from anything previously sold. Bids will open at $ 1,000 (Â£ 716) and the proceeds from the sale will benefit initiatives that Berners-Lee and his wife Rosemary Leith support, although the weaver maker would not refer to the details of those initiatives, the auction house said.
“I’ve always been interested in the digital world, whether we can use NFTs to give money back to creatives like musicians and artists,” he said. “From the point of view of selling a work of art, artists need … it is useful in the digital world to have the equivalent of making an item.”
Although this sale marks the first time Berners-Lee has openly embraced the cryptocurrency community, the underlying technology has a lot of appeal, he said. Berners-Lee opted for similar solutions in his own Solid project aimed at decentralizing the web. âThe blockchain world is pretty much separate from the web, unless they connect in different places. But one of the problems with the design of the web is that it uses domain names, which are essentially a centralized system.
âSolid and the blockchain both attract people who want sovereign identity, sovereign power as a person. When you get a solid pod, you can share it with anyone else in the world without asking anyone, without going through a central authority. And if you get your name on a blockchain, you can use that as a sovereign identity. âSpeaking to the Guardian in 2019, Berners-Lee identified the web’s dependence on the domain name system as one of the mistakes that he would have fixed if he could turn back time.