A Sotheby’s auction recently sold the 30-year-old source code of the World Wide Web authored by Sir Tim Berners-Lee for $5.4 million as an NFT based on Ethereum.
An investment collective known as PleasrDAO, which buys expensive NFTs, found an error in a video showing the code being typed up roughly half an hour after the auction closed.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s 30-year-old source code for the World Wide Web sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $5.4 million as an NFT based on Ethereum.
In a video showing the code being typed up about half an hour after the auction ended, PleasrDAO, an investment collective that buys expensive NFTs, says it found an error.
“[Perhaps] whoever animated and encoded the video didn’t have much experience with C,” Burke told Decrypt. “In that case it’s likely they would not have noticed the error [that these characters belong to HTML].”
NFTs with errors aren’t worthless, however. According to a 2017 study published in the Harvard Business Review, consumers are willing to pay premium prices for artwork with mistakes, since the mistakes make the artwork appear even more valuable.
Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web first, and so the HTML typos could not have existed if he hadn’t. “It’s an echo of the world wide web itself in the piece,” said Burke.
As Burke noted, the NFT is similar to Monet’s The Beach at Trouville, which features sand from the beach where Monet painted. “The imperfection is a manifestation of the reality the source code helped bring to life,” he said.
A quarter of the NFT is affected by the blemish. Neither Burke nor Berners-Lee found any errors in the other three components: the archive of the source code, the digital poster of the complete code, and Berners-Lee’s letter.
Easily replaceable NFTs
The buyer can work with Sotheby’s to update the error if they want, according to PleasrDAO-although so far Sotheby’s hasn’t confirmed that. Berners-Lee’s NFT carries immutable metadata, but it is possible to update it with new information.
“The best outcome,” Burke said, “would be updating the NFT with a newly re-rendered video.” That would enable “the provenance of the update to be pertained to for posterity.”