Question about this site

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Delengroth 6 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #26794 Reply

    jake

    I have read through some of the forum about how this works, and the algorithm behind it. As far as I understand it, the hex that is input, along with the seed/book location, translate via a complex algorithm into a string of pseudo-random characters. The data inputted returns an ascii string in a deterministic and reversible way.

    If the above is true then surely you could say the same about binary (albeit a much simpler process).

    If I had a website which says “Put in any string of 1s and 0s and you can find every book ever written” then just displayed the binary as letters, would this not be doing the same thing? Or even if google translate said “all the secrets of life are contained within this website – all you need to do is input them in french”. What is this site doing that is any different? – except for a more complex encryption or translation process.

    Thoughts?

    #26795 Reply

    Delengroth
    Participant

    The reason for using hexadecimal for the location is (this is just a guess) so that it takes up less space than binary. A book at location 123456789 in decimal (9 digits) would be 111010110111100110100010101 in binary (27 digits) and 75BCD15 in hexadecimal (7 digits). This is especially important when dealing with websites. When typing into your address bar or clicking on a link, you are manually doing a GET request which is limited by the URL’s max length of 2048 characters or 2KB. To get around it, you can use a POST request which sends the data through the header and has no limit (which is how file uploads are done, for example). This is how the Search results page works. You’ll notice that if you hover on a result, the URL is not shown in the tooltip as a normal link would. This is because each result is sent via a form which sends a POST request. This workaround is needed because book locations can have a hex of up to 3200 characters.

    #26806 Reply

    jake

    Thanks for the reply, yeah so I get why you would use hex over binary, but I guess what I am asking is;

    From reading the forum people keep mentioning how all the secrets to everlasting life, the mysteries of science and ancient history, and information about how they will die, are all here but you just need to know what hex to put in to find it. So how is this website any more profound than the examples I gave earlier?

    Such as “all the answers to the quantum physics, all of history and the meaning of life are contained within google translate – all you have to do is input them in a another language” – I don’t see any meaningful difference ??

    Thanks

    #26810 Reply

    Delengroth
    Participant

    Oh, I understand your question now. It’s true, if you have a random letter generator and gave it an infinite amount of time, eventually it will spit out everything that can ever be written. This website is not that different. It’s purely a digital recreation of the Library of Babel from Jorge Luis Borges’ short story. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about a library that contains every combination of every 410-page book.

    The only thing that makes this website different is that the information is organized, just like a library, rather than having a letter generator and having to remember what arbitrary position/iteration the information you’re looking for is located at (kind of like having to remember where your birthdate is within the number pi). Under the hood, this website is exactly the same. The hex/wall/shelf/volume/page location is the seed, and the books are just the next 1,312,000 characters it spits out divided by 3200, except that you can also do it in reverse. You can “search” for a page which just takes your input, adds random characters around it, and then tells you the seed of where that page would be (and has always been if you had searched for it manually).

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