Selling first wikipedia edit nft

Historically, the earliest surviving edit on Wikipedia’s database was a January 16, 2001, revision of the page UuU, created as a list of countries starting with the letter U and oddly titled due to software considerations of the time.[6][7] However, page histories during that time were unreliably stored by the UseModWiki software; in 2010, previously inaccessible records of early UseModWiki revisions were found in archives by Wikimedia developer Tim Starling.[8] When these edits were imported into Wikipedia’s database in 2019,[9] its earliest recorded edit became the January 15, 2001, creation of HomePage with the text “This is the new WikiPedia!” by an anonymous person using the server.[10] On being informed of the importation of these edits, Wales said:

For the record, these are the earliest edits that have been found, but not the earliest edits.

Wales could easily have sold control of the website without using blockchain technology, but he says he was compelled by the idea of publicly recorded and verifiable ownership. “I think what is specifically interesting is that for the first time, we have a publicly distributed, immutable kind of database, and that’s new and different,” he says. It likely doesn’t hurt that NFTs are a highly sought-after commodity that can sell at auction for huge sums — Berners-Lee’s source code token earned him $5.4 million.

What’s an NFT?

NFTs allow you to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the blockchain.
NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” and it can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games.

I think what is specifically interesting is that for the first time, we have a publicly distributed, immutable kind of database, and that’s new and different,” he told the outlet.

It’s also a way to give people a window into the early days of Wikipedia. Once the auction is complete, the NFT will grant its new owner control of a single webpage.
Just like Wikipedia as it exists today, anyone can edit that webpage to change what it says. However, after five minutes, it will revert to its original state, with a single entry stating, “Hello, World!”

“What you see displayed is what Wikipedia looked like at the moment that I set up the software,” Wales said.
“The artistic concept is to take people back to that moment when I set up the website and had to think, ‘Gosh, this is so vulnerable. Like anybody can edit.

Similarly, permanent blockchain storage could make Wikipedia incredibly hard to censor, but it would also make removing abusive, libelous, or privacy-invading edits a nightmare.

But Wales sees potential for NFTs to supplement the traditional ways artists make money, especially around internet culture. He points to examples of meme images selling as NFTs, something that doesn’t affect their availability but helps subjects benefit from online fame in a way intellectual property law hasn’t so far.

“People just share [memes], normally in ignorance of or in violation of any intellectual property rights — somebody uploaded a cool picture, and basically it went viral, and it’s everywhere,” he says.

So how did it all start? Wikipedia was in fact the second online encyclopaedia Wales tried to get off the ground. The first was Nupedia, a peer-reviewed site written by scholars and experts.

But the entry-approval process took too long. ‘It was very, very academic and it failed because it wasn’t really any fun for volunteers — it was too rigid,’ says Wales.

Nupedia’s editor-in-chief and Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger then suggested using existing ‘wiki’ software created by programmer Ward Cunningham to make collaborating on web pages easier. ‘We were so close to giving up because progress was so slow that I decided to give it a go,’ Wales recalls. ‘Within two weeks we had as much work done as in almost two years.’

However, what made Wikipedia function was also what made it vulnerable, since anyone with an internet connection could edit the site.

Following in the footsteps of Tim Berners-Lee and others, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is auctioning off a piece of internet history. Starting today, you can bid in a Christie’s auction to obtain an NFT of his first Wikipedia edit.

Wales is also auctioning off the Apple iMac he used to work on the website. Bidding on the non-fungible token will start at $100, though we expect it will take several million to secure it before the auction ends on December 15th.
Proceeds from the sale will go to charity and WT Social, Wales’ Facebook and Twitter alternative.

In an interview with The Verge, the internet entrepreneur said he wanted to package his first Wikipedia edit as an NFT in part because of the way the technology publicly records and verifies ownership.

I opened a file called wiki.tar.gz, and inside were three complete backups of the text of Wikipedia, from February, March and August 2001! / This is exciting, because there is lots of article history in here which was assumed to be lost forever.

  • ^ abBluerasberry; Pythoncoder; Smallbones (August 30, 2019). “Documenting Wikimania and our beginnings”. The Signpost. Retrieved December 5, 2021.
  • ^“HomePage”.

    January 15, 2001 – via Wikipedia.

  • ^Moen, Matt (December 3, 2021). “Wikipedia Is Selling a Slice of Internet History”. PAPER.
  • ^Fowler, Bree (December 3, 2021).

    Christie’s auctioning off NFT of first Wikipedia edit”. CNET.

  • ^ abPauly, Alexandra (December 3, 2021).

    “Christie’s & Jimmy Wales Sell Wikipedia’s First Entry as an NFT”. Highsnobiety.

  • ^Jimmy Wales.
  • That edit… was originally penned… shortly after the site first rolled out to the public in mid-January, 2001.

  • ^The Telegraph Staff (September 24, 2009). “The Oldest Surviving Web Pages”. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  • ^Murray, Janet H.


    Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. pp. 89–90. ISBN 9780262016148.

    Retrieved January 23, 2022. [p. 90:] Figure 3.2 The earliest still-extant Wikipedia editing entry. [Shows image of ‘Project page / Wikipedia:UuU’.]

  • ^Starling, Tim [tstarling at] (December 14, 2010). “[Foundation-l] Old Wikipedia Backups Discovered”. I was looking through some old files in our SourceForge project.
  • PleasrDAO, a group that previously purchased the Wu-Tang Clan one-of-a-kind album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin (see Once Upon a Time in Shaolin § Sale by US Department of Justice (2021).[20][21] Numerous Wikipedia editors objected to the sale on various grounds.[22][23] Some editors, including administrators, argued that Wales’ use of his own user profile page to advertise the sale was a violation of Wikipedia guidelines against self-promotion.[22] Other editors criticized the sale on the grounds that the artificial scarcity of NFTs is incompatible with Wikipedia’s open-source free knowledge principles.[22][23] They were broadly not opposed to the iMac sale but objected to the NFT for representing what they perceived as monetization encroaching onto the platform.[23]



    1. ^“Main Page history: first edit”.

    I think as we move in that direction,” he says, “then suddenly a lot of use cases that people aren’t really considering will start to seem more interesting.”

    For now, this NFT is supposed to offer a window back into the launch of Wales’ own internet-changing project. “The artistic concept is to take people back to that moment when I set up the website and had to think, ‘Gosh, this is so vulnerable. Like anybody can edit. It might just destroy the whole thing, and I’ll be taken over by trolls in five minutes,’” he says.

    Wales described precisely that experience at last month’s NFT.NYC convention, joking about how someone could mint an early version of the homepage that got defaced by trolls.

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