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‘Embarrassing’ coding error spotted in World Wide Web NFT sale

Sotheby's Offers NFT Of Jay-Z's Original Debut Album Art By Derrick Adams & Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee sold the source code for the World Wide Web as an NFT for $5.4m (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Eagle-eyed tech heads have spotted what appears to be an error in a clip of the World Wide Web code recently sold as a non-fungible token (NFT).

Creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee auctioned off the NFT — a kind of internet certificate — at Sotheby’s auction house on Wednesday for a whopping $5.4m.

But a video advertising the lot contains a common translation mistake, one tech expert told BBC News.

Instead of the ‘<‘ and ‘>’ symbols, the video displayed the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) translations ‘&lt;’ and ‘&gt;’ Mikko Hypponen from security firm F Secure said.

Website creator Mark O’Neill added the original text file might have been accidently converted into HTML when the video was made.

‘It’s embarrassing for Sotheby’s but I trust that nobody has done the same to the original code,’ he said.

NFTs have soared in popularity as investments in recent months, with tokens of artwork, videos and even GIFs selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Berners-Lee announced he would sell an NFT of his original World Wide Web code as a ‘digital artefact’ earlier this year.

Sir. Tim Berners-Lee Attends Campus Party Italia 2019

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 while working at particle accelerator CERN (Credits: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images)

The NFT comprises time-stamped files of the original source code, an animation of it being written and a letter from Berners-Lee.

His decision came as a surprise to some observers who noted the tech pioneer’s historic refusal to patent his information-linking system, which was put in the open domain in 1993.

Defending his decision, Berners-Lee told The Guardian: ‘The core codes and protocols on the web are royalty free, just as they always have been.

‘I’m not selling the web — you won’t have to start paying money to follow links.

‘I’m not even selling the source code.

‘I’m selling a picture that I made, with a Python program that I wrote myself, of what the source code would look like if it was stuck on the wall and signed by me.’

Berners-Lee and his wife plan to donate the funds raised to charity.


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