July 22, 2018 at 6:28 am #28509
1) What can the Library be applied to besides finding truths in the hexagons, which reign as almost impossible? Could it be applied to teaching lessons about language, existence, etc.? What lessons?
2) Why was the hexagon chosen to represent sectors of the Library? Is it because it’s made of equilateral triangles?
3) I thought of using mirrors in a hypothetical art installation to represent the infinite iterations of the Library. How would you utilize mirrors in the exhibit?July 24, 2018 at 1:22 am #28544
1) Besides truths? Well, you have to remember that any combination of text is fully contained in the Library. Entire books filled with nothing but lies or false information are just as equally represented, as well as any variation no matter how small. You can have an entirely perfect book in the Library, but then also find the exact same book, except a single letter on a random page be different.
2) Hm, I’m not quite sure. You’d have to ask Borges, haha. If I were to guess, maybe it’s because they provide a nice and uniform structure to the Library he envisioned. Perhaps he thought of it like a beehive, with the many intricately built honeycombs.
3) Using mirrors is actually a neat idea! I’d probably use them in a diorama, but also with the use of one-way mirrors. If you place a mirror on the other side of a one-way mirror, you can create an infinitely repeating hallway. Search for “infinity mirror” on the web to see what I mean. Only in this case, you would do it with a miniature scale of a hex rather than just a square of lights.July 24, 2018 at 3:14 pm #28563
1) Actually when I thought of mirrors I did first think about inscribing words from a book onto a mirror tunnel, so that the words infinitely reflect. It’s nice to hypothetically ponder about an art installation though, isn’t it? If only it could be made real.
2) How similar to another piece of intellectual property does a work need to be for copyright infringement? Does it need to be exactly copied down to every single letter or punctuation mark? If not, couldn’t you make “altered” works that aren’t exactly similar? Also about your earlier post about copyrights, how would you find the whole complete book in the library, as the Library only contains all pages, not all books?
3) What if people used the library to store information that they needed to retrieve for certain uses, but don’t want to remember? What if they just searched up that information in the library and then just write down the hex id, Wall, shelf, book, and page? Then nobody who doesn’t know the website and therefore can’t recognize the format of the information have no clue what all that information is, but people would retrieve it from the Internet on demand every time.July 24, 2018 at 10:36 pm #28574
2) About copyright, it depends on local laws. Altered works would have to be significantly different enough for them to be considered derived works and fall under “fair use” or parody. The Library does contain all books, but there’s currently no way to search for them.
3) That’s entirely possible, and it would be some weird form of encryption. The only drawback is that in order to retrieve the data, it would rely on this website being still available (or Jonathan releasing the source code). Otherwise, the data could be lost forever.July 25, 2018 at 9:39 am #28588
1) Is the human expression of language futile if its potential is already stored in the Library? That is, does a human writing or speaking it with intent really make a difference as opposed to finding those same words in the Library?
2) When the algorithm regenerates each page after its hex, wall, shelf, etc. are entered in as a seed, how are the page’s contents reproduced without being physically stored?
3) If a full scale hex were being built, is there some sort of specific air ventilation system that is installed based on Borges’ works? Also how much of the Library do you think the human race will discover before our extinction?July 25, 2018 at 7:35 pm #28598
1) I wouldn’t think so. Language is a communication tool, and with it, it enables us to take action, have influence on others, and helps us accomplish our goals. If anything, the Library can be potentially seen as making creativity futile, as all that can be said or expressed is contained within.
2) The location acts as a seed to Jonathan’s PRNG (pseudo-random number generator). Quite simply, all it does after being given a seed is to spit out the next 3200 characters it calculates. If you don’t know how PRNGs work, basically, computers are unable to generate truly random numbers on their own. Instead, they use some mathematical formula to calculate a sequence of random numbers (hence “pseudo-random”). The downside is that they require a seed (starting number) to know what to calculate next. The next number it calculates becomes the seed for the next number, like a long chain. If at any point you give the PRNG a known seed, it will always output the same “random” sequence of numbers, as long as the formula didn’t change.
Here’s a very simple one you could do with a calculator:
1) Pick a number between 0 and 2147483647
2) To get the next number, multiply the seed by 16807
3) Lastly, take that number and modulo by 2147483647 (divide by 2147483647, then take the remainder. For example: 5 mod 3 = 2). You can do this easily in Google by searching “x mod 2147483647”, where x is your number.
4) Use the remainder number in step #2, and repeat as many times as desired
The sequence appears to be random, but it’s all very much calculated. Actual PRNGs are a bit more complex than that, in order to produce better results, but it at least helps you understand how it’s not truly random. I should also mention that the only way computers can calculate true random numbers is by measuring an outside force, such as the temperature of the processor, or using radio static. The problem with that, is that it’s not seedable.
3) I would think not. Borges’ Library is a metaphor for the universe, so there wouldn’t be any “outside” to vent out to.
It depends on how long the human race will last, and if you’re counting anything beyond what we’d evolve into, or if you include super fast computers. In all cases, I think the amount would be minuscule.July 27, 2018 at 10:29 am #28632
1) So I got that the first seed is multiplied and then modulo by that number, but why is that process repeated, and how does it actually generate text? Can you explain that in more detail?
2) Let’s say I have a string of text. What process do I apply to it backwards to get the seed that would trigger the production of that text (without searching it up in the Library)? That is, can I anticipate what seed can produce what text by taking the text and applying a mathematical process to it to get back the seed?
3) What does “tar for mortar” even mean? It’s from Genesis, but what context does it have in the Library?July 29, 2018 at 2:32 pm #28692
1) Sure thing. The process is repeated so that it keeps giving random numbers. The formula will only give you one at a time, so in order to generate a page, you have to do that process 3200 times for a single page. Luckily, computers are very good at that part. As for how it generates text, remember what I said about binary and ASCII. The formula from above gives you a random 32-bit integer, but a different one might just give you a random number from 65 to 90 (ASCII codes for A to Z). That number is then converted to the proper letter. Punctuation marks also have a number, so they’d be included as well.
2) I don’t quite have the answer to that, especially not one that I can simplify. It’s still a little beyond what I’m able to make. But yes, that’s what Jonathan was able to do; you’re on the right track. His PRNG is reversible, meaning you can find the seed by feeding a page into the algorithm (formula). There’s small hints here and there were Jonathan asked around if it’s possible. From what I gather, he used a reversible linear congruential generator (LCG). The best place you can look is here, where he posted his question: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/29569927
3) It’s a reference to the Tower of Babel. The passage from Genesis explains that when all humans spoke a single language, they were able to understand each other and work together, and they attempted to build a gigantic tower all the way to Heaven. When God saw this, He did not like it and scattered them to different regions of the Earth and made them all speak different languages (confusion of tongues). The story of the Library only shares the name of the Mesopotamian kingdom Babel, aka Babylon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_BabelJuly 29, 2018 at 3:01 pm #28693
1) Have you ever tried just searching up random bookmarks for Library pages that others have created in the past by entering different keywords like “Library,” “Babel,” really whatever you want, to produce different bookmarks? There’s some really interesting stuff out there that would be lost forever if not for bookmarks… but that begs the question: Once people search up text, is that test just lost forever in the void? It’s kind of sad to think about the fact that no one will look at that text again through pure methods like browsing, and that the effort to search that text was just a futile echo into the unknown.
2) Why do you think he hasn’t published the source code? It would save a lot of guesswork on the users’ part.. of course, there really aren’t any other frequent users anyway.
3) Could it be possible to create a Library that only randomly generates pages which are full English words and make grammatical sense completely? So like a random phrase generator, but for all phrases that can possibly exist.July 29, 2018 at 5:26 pm #28700
1) I have just now actually, as participation in your “Double Bee Movie” thread. Searched text is indeed lost forever, but I wouldn’t shed a tear over it. It was searched for after all, and would make no difference in posting the location here or just the text itself. The only thing that would be sad is losing a page found at random that had something significant on it. I dismiss almost every find from the “Random” feature though, as it’s indiscernible from a regular Search. I tend to favor the results found when people type out their own random hex location in the “Browse” section. Amusingly, I found this one just now:
“chicfila” in the middle of the page at:
Which is (almost) the name of a restaurant “Chick-Fil-A”. Even funnier is that I tried looking in location w4s2v01 which was as close as I could get to “420”. Nothing “noteworthy” though. What’s great is that findings like these don’t even need a bookmark, as their locations are so short, and it’s super obvious that there was no Search used to find it. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone stumbled upon a page in “judgementday” describing how the world will end? I took this same concept and applied it to a calendar, so that you can read the “newspaper” for any day in time: https://libraryofbabel.info/forum/?topic=how-to-read-the-newspaper-for-any-point-in-time
I haven’t found anything myself using that method, but I hope it gives someone bored a little something to have fun with.
2) From what I recall, he wanted to add a few features (I think one of them was searching for entire books), and overall make it ready for the general public. As a programmer myself, code tends to be a little sloppy when only written for yourself to read, and some are more apprehensive than others when releasing it out of embarrassment. I’ll accept anything at this point, heh.
3) Absolutely, but it would be very difficult. The first thing to do would be to create a normal random phrase generator. For it to make grammatical sense is the biggest challenge. Even our most advanced artificial intelligence can’t make their own thoughts, so you’d have to jump that hurdle first. There’s also phrases like these that make grammatical sense, but would be difficult to tell if the generator is broken and spitting out nonsense:
Or, you could “cheat” and just make a giant list manually of all phrases that have been said. “I think, therefore I am.”, “The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.”, etc. Needless to say, that will take a while. Once you’re able to accomplish that, the rest is easy. I would approach it the same way ASCII approached characters. Your library would need to map every phrase to a number. If we’re going alphabetically, 1 = “I” (as a response, perhaps. “Who is it?” -> “[It is] I.”), 2 = “Be!”, and so on. Inspiration from here:
You would need an upper limit though. Apparently, the longest sentence in English is contained in a book called The Rotter’s Club by Jonathan Coe, and it’s 13,955 words long.
After you have your list, you should scramble it so that it’s not alphabetical. That’s boring. Then you just convert the phrase into its assigned number, and that’s the location which anyone can “look up”. It’ll have all the nuances that this Library has, including subtle differences. A phrase like “He ventured into the dark cave” might be at position 23,718,131 and the phrase “He ventured into the dank cave” might be at 352,941,104,376,547,457. Note the difference between “dark” and “dank”. The only thing would be to “disguise” the location by chopping off the last few numbers and giving them “physical” properties:
352,941,104,376,547,457 -> Hex: 3529411043765 (in hexadecimal, 335C14AA1B5), Wall: 4 Shelf: 7, Volume: 4, Page: 57.
The one downside to this method is that you’re relying on grammatically correct phrases. This is not just a finite set of information, but it’s also specific to certain rules, which require a physical list to exist. If you wanted any and all combination of English words to be smashed together and not matter about them making sense, you can rely on mathematical randomness and generate them on demand.July 30, 2018 at 10:12 am #28719
1) Ha there’s actually a popular misconception, aka the “Mandela effect,” that Chick-fil-a is spelt Chic-fil-a. So maybe you did find something veritable?
2) Never heard of the “Buffalo” one, but it seems interesting about how such a sentence can even be grammatically plausible. For the random phrase generator, since each phrase has an assigned number in the hexes, how would you map out pages with multiple phrases on them? The example you gave seems to only work for that one phrase on an otherwise blank page?
3) Just wanted to share bookmark links for the keywords “vsauce” “cgi” “my_life” and “war.” Interesting messages. Also, the keywords “war_and_peace” inputted into a bookmark produce the similar hex mentioned in the “Double Bee Movie” thread. Now we have five (?) pages from that type of hex. And using “rachel” as a keyword produces a whole page of bored thoughts… similar to when you said that pages with names as bookmarked pages are from bored high schoolers. Upon closer inspection, it’s actually just a half page of Eminem lyrics. There’s even questions that should be in the forum that someone just typed into the Library and bookmarked. Finally, here’s a dark one: the keyword “fate” produces a page with the following sentence in the middle of the page: “Michael Cogan will die from suicide on two thousand and eighteen alone from abuse and neglect.” Makes you think about the people who searched these things up.
4) Could people communicate to each other and hold entire conversations through bookmarked pages in the Library?July 30, 2018 at 9:29 pm #28725
2) Yes, it would only work for a single phrase on an otherwise empty page. If you want pages containing multiple phrases, or even entire books, then the same concept would apply. You’d need to create every possible combination, and that unique copy would get an assigned number in this gigantic list. That’s how the Library here works, but with PRNG.
4) Interesting question, but after some thought, I think it’s not possible. If I were to give you a bookmarked page or a location to a page which asked you “How was your day?”, I would need to know where to find your response. The problem is that since I’m the one giving you my page location, the page would need to contain the location of your response, meaning I would already know where to look and just find the response there. Further, your page would contain the location of my followup response before I even asked it.July 31, 2018 at 2:28 pm #28742
1) Does discovering a page make it more likely to be found (aside from bookmarking)?
2) What is the largest hexagon id that exists in terms of numerical quantity?
3) If someone hypothetically read the entire Library, would they become the most knowledgeable person to have ever edited? Or the complete opposite?
4) If the Library is the universe, what is outside of the Library?August 1, 2018 at 8:20 pm #28765
1) Not really. Found pages are just the results of searching around. If there were a “Recently Found” section then others may browse that list. The only way it would be more likely (right now) for others to find a page, is if it’s reported. When it’s reported, a search engine such as Google may index the page. If you search for “site:libraryofbabel.info” in Google, you can already see such finds.
2) Well, given that “z” is the last numeral in base-36, and the Browse page only lets you type out a 3360-character hex location, I would type out 3360 zs. Here’s the first book in that hex:
3) That hypothetical person would no doubt be the most knowledgeable person, but not just in useful information. They’d know every false fact, lie, and useless pieces of information as well. Since all of the information in question would have an even distribution, I feel that it would be difficult for that person to be able to differentiate fact from fiction.
4) The outside of the Library is inaccessible. On the first pages of the story, it’s explained that: “The Library is a sphere whose exact center is any one of its hexagons and whose circumference is inaccessible.”
On the last page: “Those who imagine it to be without limit forget that the possible number of books does have such a limit. I venture to suggest this solution to the ancient problem: The Library is unlimited and cyclical. If an eternal traveler were to cross it in any direction, after centuries he would see that the same volumes were repeated in the same disorder (which, thus repeated, would be an order: the Order). My solitude is gladdened by this elegant hope.”
To me, it sounds like if you were to reach the “border”, the Library bends in on itself, perhaps in a higher dimension than the 3rd, similar to a Mobius Strip.August 7, 2018 at 8:51 pm #28887
1) Do you think humanity’s essential quest in existence is to find knowledge? What if we just filled the planet with supercomputers that endlessly scanned the pages of the Library in a periodical fashion, searching for intelligible phrases?
2) Is the Library the ultimate source of knowledge, if it were to be fully established?
3) Would it be productive at all if the Library were sent out into space as a means of extraterrestrial communication? By creating language, have we created a medium to share all of Earth’s facets using a finite set of characters? Granted, the aliens don’t understand English nor do they impart meaning to these symbols, but is sending the summation of language a symbolically greater presence than sending physical materials of our existence?