Wikipedia co-founder sells ‘Hello World’ edit as NFT for US$750k; flogs old iMac, too
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has auctioned the first ever edit made on the free online encyclopedia, as an NFT. And it sold this week for a whopping US$750k via auction site Christie’s.
Titled The Birth of Wikipedia, the online sale consisted of two lots, including The Strawberry iMac Wales used to create the site and his ‘Hello World!’ edit back in 2001. The chunky desktop computer went for $US187,500.
“Strange days indeed.” John Lennon… you continue to be right.
An NFT of Wikipedia’s first edit “Hello World!” sold for $750,000 and Strawberry iMac from 2000 used by @jimmy_wales to create Wikipedia sold for $187,500 in Christie's online sale https://t.co/NewLuiOn7R pic.twitter.com/9IUtS9HyvG
— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) December 15, 2021
The NFT preserves the layout of the Wikipedia home page in 2001, based on the earliest surviving source code. It also has a feature that enables the owner to edit the page, which can be reset with a timer to revert to its original state.
Yep… definitely well worth three-quarters of a million dollars, right? (Hell, maybe it actually is – see the buyer’s comments further below.)
Judging by this Jimmy Wales comment from back in March, though, he might’ve been hoping for something more like the US$2.5 million+ fetched at the time for an NFT of former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet.
So… first tweet for $2.5 million?
How about my Strawberry iMac I used when I launched Wikipedia?
It isn't an "NFT" but it's real and I could bring it to you and sing Sweet Home Alabama.
— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) March 6, 2021
Christie’s senior specialist Peter Klarnet said that the auction’s result “underscores the burgeoning interest in the history of the internet among collectors.” According to the auction house, Wikipedia will use a portion of the sale proceeds to help support Wales’ alternative social media network pilot project WT.Social.
It seems not all Wikipedians (volunteers who edit the site), however, have appreciated Wales turning a slice of Wikipedia lore into a non-fungible token sale. In fact, one even described NFTs as being “on the wrong side of history”.
Why the heck would you do this?
NFTs are all about attempting to create artificial scarcity, and in this moment in time, profit. Wikipedia is the opposite of both of those.
NFTs are on the wrong side of history and will stay that way, hope you reconsider.
— 💙💛 TitaniumSporks 💙💛 (@TitaniumSp0rks) December 3, 2021
The misgiving seems to be centred around the idea that the sale contradicts the ethos of Wikipedia as a free-knowledge resource.
As reported by Blockworks, the successful bidder on the Wikipedia NFT and iMac was initially anonymous, but has now been revealed as the well-known (within crypto) Web3 investor Santiago Santos, formerly a partner with the influential VC investment firm ParaFi.
Santos reportedly bought the NFT for PleasrDAO, a decentralised autonomous organisation that now owns the one-of-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
“I bought it because I think it’s priceless,” Santos told Blockworks, adding that it is “emblematic of Web3.”