back to article Funny how Sir Tim Berners-Lee, famous for hyperlinks, is into NFTs, glorified hyperlinks

Internet trailblazer Sir Tim Berners-Lee is auctioning off a link to his very early World Wide Web browser and server source code in the form of a non-fungible token. Yup, another NFT. These are tokens that are embedded in a blockchain, and can be sold for millions and exchanged between traders. Buyers really aren't getting …

  1. Chris G

    Nothing Fecking There

    NFT.

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Nothing Fecking There

      Yep. NFT's prove ownership but only in the context of the particular blockchain backed NFT system used to register them. Nothing stops you or anyone else from creating other "ownerships" of the same asset in other NFT schemes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing Fecking There

        Or, for that matter, even accepting the exclusive linkage to the block chain scheme it claims to be registered in. The link is not the code!

        Lets be realistic here, that $69 million mentioned in the story, is a fake valuation of an otherwise worthless asset used to pretend that the crypto it was turned into was somehow backed by assets worth $69 million. When that crypto coin collapses, how much do you think the liquidator will be able to get for a JPEG in a real tradable currency?

        Nothing.

        So how much will the buyers left holding said crypto coin be able to recover from their 'asset'..... nothing.

        But they're supposed to believe there is something there, beyond the balance of money put in by the marks and taken out by the scammers!

        Also who's the buyer there and whose the selling? Did the "digital artist" *sell* their digital artwork for fake money, or did the digital artist *buy* the fake currency they were supposedly paid in by paying with their art?

        Or was it the third option: a mock auction fraud? Where buyer and sellers are the same group pretending to be trading something of value in order to lure in real buyers and real assets with real money.

      2. Solviva Bronze badge

        Re: Nothing Fecking There

        It's like the 'name a star' con-outfits.

        Yes you've paid money to a random company who keeps a ledger (I can imagine they even skip that) of folk they've conned, in return providing said folk a certificate 'proving' their star now has the requested name.

        1. parlei

          Re: Nothing Fecking There

          But giving someone a small piece of the moon *can* be used as a romantic-funny gift if presented in the proper way. At most worth the paper it is printed on, sure, but still.

          Then, if someone in the future builds a gigant shopping mall just on *my* acre of the moon my decendants will have it made.

      3. Mage

        Re: Nothing Fecking There

        A paper (or vellum) document, certified by accredited witnesses is real and could last 1000s of years. Notarized, certified copies can be made.

        An NFT is simply a scam and doesn't prove ownership. It's environmentally unfriendly and relies on complex infrastructure owned by third parties. Another speculative vehicle to snare people, like cryptocurrencies which are not digital currencies. Any existing currency can be purely digital. No new software or technology needed.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Nothing Fecking There

          >A paper (or vellum) document, certified by accredited witnesses

          Who gets to do the accrediting?

          The UK court system, CERN's IT dept , the NEXT corporation shareholders?

          In this case the signed by witnesses in a British lawyers office is reasonable but what about a Banksy style artist, working in Russia or China ? Would you accept a certificate from the CCP giving you ownership of an online video protesting the policing in Hong Kong

    2. Petalium

      Re: Nothing Fecking There

      Oops I lost the USB stick, better call the insurance company and make a 69 million $ claim!

  2. Captain Hogwash

    Re: "He praised them as a way of “avoiding central control,”"

    I'm still struggling with this one.

    1. MarsAttax

      Re: "He praised them as a way of “avoiding central control,”"

      "Avoiding central control" here means "giving me lots of money".

      Because f*** the planet, apparently.

      1. Grim...

        Re: "He praised them as a way of “avoiding central control,”"

        A few outlets are reporting that the money is going to charity.

        1. Dabooka

          Re: "He praised them as a way of “avoiding central control,”"

          Including this one, it's in the article.

          I guess they never read that far down

  3. AdamT

    Actually ....

    ... the quote from Sotherby's (used in the subheadline) about the similarity with autographing a book is the first time that NFTs have made even the slightest bit of sense to me.

    Obviously they have many other problems (such as wasting energy) but the analogy partially works (for me at least): "I know you also have an identical copy of the book but mine is special (a.k.a. more valuable) because someone signed their name on it"

    This does suggest that the "value" is likewise going to be highly subjective in the same way as you might not care about this author signing a book but you might care about that one doing it.

    I wonder if the analogy will extend to, what I understand is quite a big problem in the "autographed goods" market, of fakes?

    1. Andy 68

      Re: Actually ....

      Book signings for the Covid generation.

      No need for all that messy personal contact

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Actually ....

        Also for non-tangible assets.

        I can own an original frame of Snow White, framed and certified by Walt Disney corp.

        What if I wanted to buy an original .tiff of a frame of Toy Story?

        Do they have to print it onto film, do they have to print out the hex file and frame it?

        NFTs are a way of autographing digital assets - the assets might be worthless but that's not the NFTs fault.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Actually ....

      "Obviously they have many other problems (such as wasting energy) but the analogy partially works (for me at least): "I know you also have an identical copy of the book but mine is special (a.k.a. more valuable) because someone signed their name on it""

      But even that still doesn't work. Sure, people can argue about the value of an autographed book versus a plain one, but in both cases the owner actually has a book. Having an NFT is the equivalent of saying you have the right to read an autographed booked kept in a public library. You don't actually own any such book and everyone else also has the right to read it, but you have a little piece of paper officially saying you can.

      It might be different if the data itself was actually encoded in the NFT. It might just be a copy of the same data everyone else has access to, but like an autographed book it's a unique copy stored in a particular way that may have additional value to some people. But as the article notes, that's almost never the case.

  4. Steve Button Silver badge

    I guess it might have a use...

    ... rich people who want to donate to some kind of cause that they support, and at the same time the value of the NFT *might* even go up over time, so it's a (very risky) investment also.

    So, a pretty limited use case, and not really for the rest of us who will just use Patreon or Fiverr do give people small amounts.

    But then people pay millions for a shark made of blood or a piece of shit in a box, so who knows? There's no limit to stupidity.

    1. Mage
      Facepalm

      Re: I guess it might have a use...

      Just pay real artists real money they can buy food and shelter with. Cut out the environmentally damaging and scammy NFT and cryptocoin exploiters.

  5. Mage
    Devil

    Crazy.

    He has just lost all credibility with me for endorsing this evil scam-ware.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Crazy.

      Not with me. I think this and all other NFTs are useless, but I think most physical collection items are also useless and we don't attack those buying and selling, say, a pair of old shoes for scamming each other. We just don't buy them. In my opinion, if someone is willing to buy something worthless and you don't hide what it is or how much it's worth, then that's on them. Honesty is an important part in this, but I haven't seen him make any claims about what benefit the NFT entails--it gives you nothing more than a signed hash, and everyone who is interested has the time to figure that out.

  6. Blackjack Silver badge

    Remember when Blockchains were going to be used to store information? When this definitely isn't that.

  7. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Interestingly

    , the web per Tim was only ever intended to be a proof of concept, just quickly hacking up an implementation of the read-only aspects of the then-much-argued-about full-scale html spec (RW not just RO). His intent was that it would galvanise the rather moribund squabbling, get it back on track.

    Instead, the little read-only prototype sparked a lot of outsiders' interest and enthusiasm, and kinda took off by itself and in its (or their) own direction.

    "Oops"

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      RW

      We sorta have pseudo RW now, but it's actually proxied via spoke&hub interstitial servers. The original goal was to be fully peer-to-peer, and just via html.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bragging rights

    Paris because NFT are paid-for bragging rights; recorded in private, then exposed to the public.

    First!

  9. gargantua

    He makes his point with his comment, "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." I was there during the early days of WWW adoption - it changed my life profoundly, for better or worse. Nevertheless my angle would be to show some respect and not cast him like another huckster with a side angle.

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      Well I don't think he is doing anything wrong, he basically build some of the fundamentals of the Internet we use today yet he isn't getting royalties for that. Give the guy some money, he deserves it.

  10. babaganoush

    NFT? Blockchain?

    So Blockchain is still a solution in desperate search of a problem?

  11. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    From www to ggg

    Going, Going, Gone

  12. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    "Sir Tim sees this as similar to selling an autograph copy of a book.”

    I'll be having the real book along with the real signature thank you very much.

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