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Jimmy Wales is selling his first Wikipedia edit as an NFT

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is selling a non-fungible token (or NFT) based on his first edit of the free encyclopedia. Auction house Christie’s will hold a sale of the token from December 3rd to 15th, auctioning it alongside the Strawberry iMac Wales was using around Wikipedia’s launch. The funds will go toward charitable causes and WT.Social, a donation-backed social network that Wales launched in 2019.

Wales’ NFT is effectively the keys to a very early version of Wikipedia, which debuted in January of 2001. “What you see displayed is what Wikipedia looked like at the moment that I set up the software,” he tells The Verge. The single page will be launched publicly on the web, and much like Wikipedia itself, anyone will be able to see and edit it. But all changes will revert after five minutes, returning it to its original state: a single edit reading “Hello, World!” following a long-held tradition of programming.

The NFT, which is written to the Ethereum blockchain, encodes a smart contract that grants its buyer control over that website. The buyer can change the window for reverting edits, and if they really want, they can turn off editing or shut down the page. They can also take a completely hands-off approach and let Wales manage the page for them.

Jimmy Wales / Christie’s

The project is conceptually similar to an earlier sale by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who tokenized the source code to the first web browser and donated the proceeds from its sale to charity. 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 a...

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