There’s a HTML error in the $5.43M NFT representing the internet’s source code

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Screenshot of the error in the WWW source code visualisation

(Image credit: Sotheby’s)

You know that $5.43M NFT that contained files pertaining to the source code for the world wide web? The one created by Sir WWW Tim Berners-Lee himself? Turns out there’s a scripting error in the video representation of the source code. 

It has been highlighted by Mikko Hypponen, a researcher at F Secure, on Twitter who pointed out that “the angle brackets are wrong!” If you watch the start of the video visualisation of the code on the Sotheby’s auction page you can see that where there should be ‘<' and '>‘ characters they have been replaced by something else entirely.

Hold on…the www source that Sotheby is auctioning? The angle brackets are wrong! They’ve been – yes – HTML encoded from “” to “< >“. Lol. https://t.co/vb7clOETfU pic.twitter.com/kb1ugoPyokJune 30, 2021

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They’ve actually been HTML encoded when the video was put together and have been switched to ‘<' and '&gt'. According to BBC News this was a tactic sometimes used to safeguard precious code, known as ‘escaping’. But it is suggested that in this case, it’s just a simple mistake and that whoever made the video itself simply took the original text file of the code and ran it through an HTML converter.

So, whoever paid $5,434,500 for the NFT containing the original archive of code files, a digital poster, and a README letter from Sir Tim himself, also got this video visualisation with the error inside it.

There’s a chance that actually might end up making this NFT more valuable than even the vast sum of money that it has originally been purchased for. Think about those ultra-rare stamps that are even more valuable than pristine ones because some printing error has made the queen look like she’s winking lasciviously. Or whatever, I don’t know, I’m not a philatelist.

We have been pretty down on the whole ecological impact of the blockchain technology backing up the whole NFT nightmare, as well as the fact NFTs don’t actually seem to be particularly good at protecting the authors and artists they were created to. But whatever we feel about NFTs it is good to see that instead of actually personally profiting from the sale, Sir Tim is donating the entire proceeds of the sale to charities chosen by him and his wife.

What a nice man.

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he’s back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.