Jimmy Wales is selling his first Bitcoin edit as NFT.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is selling a non-fungible token (or NFT) based on his first edit of the free encyclopedia. The auction house Christie’s will hold a token sale from December 3 to December 15, auctioning it off with strawberries. IMac Wales was used around the launch of Wikipedia. Funds will go to charity and WT.Social, a donation-backed social network that Wales launched in 2019.

Wells NFT is effectively the key to a very early version of Wikipedia, launched in January 2001. “What you saw looked like Wikipedia when I set up the software,” he says. the edge. The single page will be launched publicly on the web, and like Wikipedia itself, anyone can view and edit it. But all the changes will come back after five minutes, returning it to its original state: read the same edit and say “Hello, World!” After a long tradition of programming.

NFT, written on the Ethereum blockchain, encodes a smart contract that gives its buyer control over the website. The buyer can change the window to undo the edit, and if they really want to, they can close the edit or close the page. They can also take a full hand of approach and let Wales manage the page for them.

A strawberry iMac owned by Jimmy Wales in 2001

Jimmy Wales / Christie’s

The scheme is conceptually similar to the earlier sale of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who tokenized the source code for the first web browser and donated the proceeds from the sale to a charity. Wells could easily sell control of the website without using blockchain technology, but says it was forced by the idea of ​​publicly recorded and verifiable ownership. “I think what’s particularly interesting is that, for the first time, we have a publicly distributed, unchanging database, and it’s new and different,” he says. There’s no denying that NFTs are a highly sought-after item that could fetch huge sums at auction – Berners-Lee’s source code token earned him 5.4 million.

Wales’ WT.social platform is an experience in paid social networking, but not in the style of systems such as Friends With Benefits that restrict access with high-value cryptocurrency tokens. Encouraging members to pay for subscriptions is free, just like Wikipedia’s sponsorship model – a strategy aimed at removing the bad incentives that ad-supported services can create online.

Wales has an overall connection to blockchain technology. While the Wikimedia Foundation accepts donations to Bitcoin, it says the money raised through it was “not massive.” And he thinks many of Tech’s proposed applications on Wikipedia are misleading – such as allowing people to pay editors for “excellent” edits with cryptocurrency. “I like, yes, this seems to be a great way to control Exxon, what the page says about Exxon,” says Wells. Similarly, permanent blockchain storage can make Wikipedia incredibly difficult to censor, but it will also be a nightmare to remove edits that are abusive, offensive, or invade privacy.

But Wales sees the potential for NFTs to complement traditional ways of making money for artists, especially around Internet culture. He points to examples of meme images being sold as NFTs, something that does not affect their availability but helps articles to benefit from online popularity in the same way that intellectual property The law has not done that yet. “People just share [memes], Usually out of ignorance or infringement of intellectual property rights – someone uploaded a cool photo, and basically it went viral, and it’s everywhere, “he says.” It’s very difficult to enforce. ”

Wales also bears resemblance to the .com boom and bust of the late 1990s and early 2000s – a world where some companies failed because they were part of a hype fuel bubble, while others simply Launched with business models that were not yet technically viable. Possible. “We are still a long way from adopting corrupt currencies,” says Wells, both because of its discomfort and the effects of its harmful climate. He notes that Ethereum, while currently highly energy efficient, is expected to move towards a more environmentally friendly and potentially more user-friendly system. “I think as we move in that direction,” he says, “then a lot of sudden usage issues that people aren’t really considering will start to look more interesting.”

For now, it will be a window into the beginning of NFT Wales’ own Internet transformation project. “The artistic idea is to take people back to the moment I set up the website and think, ‘Listen, it’s too weak. Like anyone can edit. It might ruin the whole thing, and I will be taken by trawlers in five minutes, ”he says.

Wells vividly described the experience at last month’s NFT.NYC convention, mocking how one could create an early version of a homepage that was corrupted by trolls. Which begs the question: can anyone sell NFT based on Wikipedia, an encyclopedia where all content is freely licensed for reuse?

“Since this is my personal art project on which I’m nodding, I specifically chose a moment in time before someone else touched Wikipedia because I didn’t want to feel it. That I am exploiting something, “says Wells. And if you mean that NFT is an official Wikimedia Foundation project, you may be violating trademark laws. But otherwise, “with everything on Wikipedia, it is freely licensed,” says Wells. “So if you want to do something, you can do a lot.”

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