July 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm #28429
True, unless someone else impossibly comes upon the same image while browsing through the library manually or randomly. And yeah you could do choose your adventure books if there is a large enough physical library with hexagons – but then that also kinda takes the fun of out of it, doesn’t it? The joy of an infinite number of hexagons in the Library would be diminished by the two or three very finite number of physical hexagons in an art installation. The crux of the matter would be finding pages using walls, shelves, and volume numbers, but with only a couple different hex ids. After all, how many hexagons could you fit in an art space? Still trying to find that last page in that hex… any suggestions? It could take a long, long time, but I’m browsing forwards from tig.xsw, the first book, and backwards from the last page of that hex whose id you gave me, hoping I can find a common page in the distant future.July 19, 2018 at 1:56 pm #28431
Haha, I have no advice for finding the second instance of the Library. Finding it would be contingent on the math and programming behind the Library being correct, which it should be. I’m surprised that Jonathan has not actually put forth the location himself, as it should be an easy task, and would help reinforce the point that the Library truly is finite.July 19, 2018 at 2:31 pm #28432
Yes, but does Jonathan know the location of the last page himself? How would he be able to find it? It seems like the final treasure hunt that can lead to something tangible in a Library filled with anything but order. What other “memorabilia” could one make using the ideology of the Library, such as the printed, handmade book that you described?July 19, 2018 at 4:16 pm #28434
Since he is the one who did the math and made the PRNG that the Library uses, he should be able to work out what the final hex location is.
As for memorabilia, I’m not too sure. Aside from a physical book, maybe a diorama of a hex? It would be awesome indeed if a hex could be made to actual scale, but a smaller version would be more affordable.July 19, 2018 at 4:19 pm #28436
A diorama would be nice. Does the library contain all the possible pages in a pseudo random order or all the possible books consisting of 410 pages each arranged in a pseudo random order? Somehow I’ve seen both sides in this forum. Also, what Borges stories do you recommend? And have you read Tar For Mortar yet?July 19, 2018 at 4:52 pm #28439
Both the pages and books appear in a pseudorandom order. Whether or not the second instance of the Library matches the order of the first remains to be cleared up. Maybe that’s why Jonathan hasn’t mentioned where the second instance starts. I’ve not read any other stories than The Library of Babel, so I wouldn’t be able to recommend any others. And no, I haven’t read Jonathan’s book yet. It’s been sitting on my desktop poking at me to read it, but I’ve not had a lot of time to do so.July 20, 2018 at 2:29 am #28445
Oh so you bought a physical book? I mean you could also download an e-book and have it printed and bound into a book like Ricky did for his book from the Library. Questions:
1) Why does it say “participant” under your name but not under anyone else’s? Is it a quota for a certain number or posts or something?
2) Is it possible to discover a book where the hex is the same as the book’s title?
3) Is the Library “real?” If a page can only come into reality when it is observed, then does it really make a difference whether it’s physically stored on a hard drive or not? Does the fact that the whole Library isn’t sitting generated and stored at this moment make it “fake?”
4) Is there even external reality, or is reality that which the mind perceives?July 20, 2018 at 5:44 am #28450
Edit: meant Simon Chadwick, not “Ricky.” Don’t know why I wrote Ricky.July 20, 2018 at 1:20 pm #28458
I did not. I meant that I have the PDF of it sitting on my desktop, hah.
1) It’s because I’m logged in using a WordPress account to post. It’s a bit tricky to log in, but if you want to, you have to click on the “Forum” link on the main libraryofbabel.info home page. From there you will see the ability to log in at the top. Strangely, you can’t access the login if you click on the Forum link at the top of the forums. Using an account lets you have a profile picture, and keep track of your topics and posts.
2) I never thought about that, but it seems absolutely possible. There’s actually a very small number of books that this is possible with, considering book titles have a maximum length of 26 characters.
3) Ah, and this is where we dive into philosophy. It can be debated one way or another, but I like to make analogies. To me, it’s the same as saying all numbers “exist”. For example, the number 713,692,730,859,183,905,815,903,768,207,530,917,260,847,260,837,659,317,206. Perhaps I’m the first person to have ever written it down manually, but it has always “existed”. However, the same could be said about a work of art. You could say that the idea of any work of art is real, but doesn’t exist materially until a human creates it. Does it matter then, that the above number has a more valid existence because of our concept of mathematics? Any work of art can be represented in binary within a computer system, and it only takes getting the correct sequence of bits in order to reproduce it. The same way you can eventually count up to the number I made, the same way you can count up to any work of art that can be created.
4) Yet another popular philosophy topic. Consider this: The reality that you know is only possible because your brain told you so. External stimuli is received by your eyes, nose, ears, etc, and decoded by your brain. Does that mean everyone else’s is the same? How can you prove that the color red that you see looks the same to me? Have a look at these two pictures:
Let’s imagine that those two images are how two different people see the world. There would be no way that either person can prove they are “correct”. Both of them can describe “Red” as the same color as the “A” in “Basic” or the letter “L” in “Colors”. They can both also say that Pink is a lighter shade of Red, and they’d both be correct. Describing them as warm/cool colors doesn’t matter either. They would just associate the proper colors to those words.July 20, 2018 at 2:10 pm #28461
1) But then by that context, don’t all numbers ever that stretch into uncountable infinity already exist just because we know that they’re out there somewhere in the numerical system, but we just haven’t named them specifically yet? And on that note, how many numbers have actually been named by the human race? Like we have we, for example, written or said aloud all of the numbers from 1 to 1 billion since the beginning of mathematics? Interesting stuff…
2) But what if external stimuli themselves are just notions that the brain creates? I mean there really is no way around any of this. Also, I’m confused about your two images. I get the first image with the different letters being different shades of red but what about the second image? The letters are all completely different colors than the first, which I get symbolizes a different perspective, but then how can person B see colors that person A sees in image A? Wouldn’t person B just see red as the letters C or S in Image B?
3) With your art example: Yeah I would say numbers are more grounded in existence because in a sense, we’re already established all of them, just not verbally or with writing. But with art, well, it’s just more abstract, isn’t it? You can’t readily visualize it the way you can just randomly write down a number from the top of your head and know that it always existed, hidden in the numerical system. But then again, the definition of art itself is muddy in the first place. I guess with both art and numbers, the question is: does an idea of something signify the existence of that something? Or, based on the nature of the idea, are there varying degrees of existence, like with numbers that already have a place in our numerical system vs art whose form we have not yet imagined?July 20, 2018 at 3:16 pm #28464
1) Yes, that’s the idea. It’s also the same idea that the Library proposes: All pages exist somewhere in perpetuity, but have not been discovered yet. If your definition of existence though, depends on it having been discovered or existing on a hard drive, then your takeaway would be that the Library isn’t real.
2) It’s quite tricky isn’t it? Because you only know reality by way of the brain, you can’t prove (by yourself) that reality is real. About the images, not necessarily. Remember, it’s your brain that tells you what red is supposed to look like. If someone else’s brain (Image B) told them that red actually is what Image A thinks is blue, then neither of them can prove to the other that their version is correct. The brain simply interprets the light. Think of it like an extreme version of colorblindness, except in Image B’s case, ALL colors are shifted equally, such that they retain the ability to see all colors in the visible spectrum, but just not in the same way as Image A would.
3) To a digital system of binary, there’s no such thing as abstract. All the images you see on a computer are just as concrete as numbers. Same with music, writing, video, etc. Therefore, there is no difference in counting to a number nobody has counted to yet versus displaying an image nobody has drawn yet, or playing a song nobody has composed yet, or by the same logic, playing a sound clip of you saying something you’ve never said yet or shown a video of something you’ve never done. There’s a very real number out there in the grand vastness of infinity that can be converted to any computer file that can exist. It just hasn’t been counted to yet, and the Library offers you a way to discover it.July 20, 2018 at 3:55 pm #28465
1) I guess the Library is everything it claims to be, just not in the way that most people think. It has the capacity to generate all 3200 character pages possible, but it has not at this moment, only generating pages one at a time when they are accessed. But this also brings up another question – is the algorithm’s generation of all pages predetermined? That is, is the location of all pages and content of all locations already predetermined by “fate?” Of course, the whole Library will not be generated within the life span of the universe, but is its contents already decided by a “force of the universe?”
2) Speaking about interpreting color in different ways… how would you define color to someone who cannot perceive it at all? Are physical characteristics of the universe like shape, color, etc. just intuitively understood by the human brain, but cannot be simply explained to someone who has never seen it before?
3) But the Library doesn’t contain numbers, only letters and punctuation?July 20, 2018 at 5:19 pm #28467
1) Indeed. It would be impossible for the Library to exist somewhere physically, as there are more pages than atoms in the entire universe (by many orders of magnitude more). The pages are in a predetermined location, but none determined by fate or some uncontrollable force. Their locations are predetermined by Jonathan’s algorithm. The random number generator ensures that it will output all combinations of every possible page and book, in a randomized order. The book at hex 0, wall 1, shelf 1, volume 1 will always be and has always been “tig .xsw”. The same can be said about every other book in the Library. All combinations are in there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.
2) It wouldn’t be possible, or at the very least supremely difficult. It would be the same as inventing a new color. That sort of knowledge relies on previous experience.
3) Fundamentally, all data in a computer system is stored as numbers (binary, 1 and 0). By interpreting (more accurately known as “encoding”) binary into various standards, you can extrapolate any other form of data. For example, ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is a standard used for associating all values of a byte to letters, numbers, symbols, and other keyboard functions. The letter “A” (upper-case), for example, is 65 or 01000001 in binary.July 21, 2018 at 3:22 am #28479
1) How do we tell the order of the hexes generated in the Library? For example, hex 1 is next in the sequence after hex 0, but what about with hexes that have complex strings of letters and numbers? When Jonathan says that the disorder in the Library itself becomes the Order, how can we tell this Order?
2) Is it possible for two people to ever discover the same page randomly, aside from specifically bookmarking that page or searching for key words?
3) How many iterations of the Library are there after it starts repeating? And also, what’s your personal favorite page in the whole Library?July 21, 2018 at 4:39 pm #28494
1) The hexes are just numbered in base 36, so you would just count that way. In decimal, you only have 10 numberals (0, 1, 2, … 9). In base 36, you have 36 (0, 1, 2,… A, B, … Z). So, the way to count in any number system, is that once you reach the last numeral, you prefix the next one to the left, and reset the one on the right. So in decimal, at 9 you go to 10 (think of it as a 1 and a 0). The pattern then repeats until you reach 19, then the 1 becomes a 2, then you reset the 9 back to 0 and the pattern keeps going. Same with base 36, except that you actually get more numerals to work with. When you reach 9, you keep going but with letters. The letter A is actually 10 in decimal. B is 11, C is 12, and so on. Once you reach Z (35), you then go to “10” which is 36. Keep going to 1Z (71) and then you’re at “20” (72).
Decimal, the number system we commonly use is base 10. Binary, which is what computers use is base 2 (0 and 1 only). Hexadecimal is the other commonly used one and is base 16 (0 to F).
2) Absolutely, albeit the chance being supremely low. It’s especially true when using the “Random” feature. If they were looking in specific hexes, then there’s a much higher chance they’ll find the same page.
3) I might be wrong, but there may be infinite iterations, provided you can keep feeding larger hex locations to the algorithm. As for my favorite page, I don’t really have one in particular yet. I haven’t been able to find anything meaningful.