On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, typed the first-ever tweet, “just setting up my twtter.” On March 22, 2021, Dorsey sold that tweet at auction for 2.9 million dollars. In recent weeks, several Atención readers have written to ask me “WTH?” (What the heck?).
What was sold was called a Non-Fungible Token (NFT), which Wikipedia describes as “a unit of data stored on a blockchain which can represent a unique digital item like art. An NFT is a cryptographic token, but unlike cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and many network or utility tokens, NFTs are not mutually interchangeable, i.e., not fungible. An NFT is created by uploading a file, such as an artwork.… This creates a copy of the file recorded on the digital ledger as an NFT, which can be bought with cryptocurrency and resold.”
To better understand this, you must know how other official records such as birth certificates, car titles, wills, and such are preserved. Many different government offices are responsible for retaining and authenticating the original copies of these documents and other official records. Blockchain is the online digital version of this.
There are many different blockchains on the internet, just as there are many county courthouses with official records or many different motor vehicle departments with official car titles. There is no single government office with a record of everything, nor any single blockchain with a record of everything. But there is only one “original” of any record, and laws governing the retention of official records usually provide guidance as to what authority is responsible for that original.
If you think you have a tweet that could be worth some cash, you can stake your claim as owner. Just point your browser to the website “v.cent.co” to start purchasing a “digital certificate” of your tweet. The website describes this as being “like an autograph on a baseball card…making it unique and valuable.”
Maybe that is the most coherent reason anyone would want to “buy” a tweet. What is being purchased is a digital certificate of the tweet, unique because it has been signed and verified by the creator. In other words, an autograph!
Collectors have paid US$3.7 million for one of the 48 copies of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln, US$388 thousand for a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, even hundreds of dollars for Bob Dylan’s or Madonna’s autograph on a CD. So even though that first-ever tweet to appear on Twitter never existed in a physical form, it does exist in cyberspace.
Bridge Oracle CEO Sina Esatavi paid US$2.9 million for that tweet and is now its owner. Proceeds of the sale will be turned into bitcoin and donated to charity via GiveDirectly to support its Africa relief efforts.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 415-101-8528 or email FAQ8@SMAguru.com.