So I found this while wandering the internet, which in many ways is a bit ironic when you begin to understand exactly what the Library of Babel is. The concept came from a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, although he would say the idea was around much longer, which gives us a detailed description of a library that contains every possible thing every written or that could be possibly be written. The parameters were set only by the rules that each book contains a combination of up to twenty five symbols, which were twenty two letters, spaces, commas, and periods. In the Library of Babel, they correspond to the letters in the Spanish alphabet in which the short story was originally written, but Borges left a few letters out that he considered superfluous. The website of the same name, created by Jonathan Basile, uses twenty nine symbols to duplicate anything that has or could be written, in theory anyway.
Basile soon realized that such an endeavor would take up more space than technologically possible, even with the storage capacity of our computers today. Instead, an algorithm is used in which each seed represents a single page in the library. So the pages exist and theoretically already exist, but don’t materialize until they are called forth. For example, anyone can browse the library by pulling up random books but will almost always come up with a page of gibberish, a completely random assortment of letters, spaces, commas, and periods. One could search this library for a million lifetimes and perhaps not find more than a few, if any, intelligible sentences. But the possibility exists, which is what makes this project intriguing, if only for a philosophical exercise. In Borges story, he communicates the insanity, hopes, and despairs of those living in such a universe, which is the library, and comes up with similar conclusions. The library itself is actually useless. Yes, the details of your death could be discovered on a page in this library, but so could a million other false versions of it. However even finding this would be statistically impossible as the vast majority of pages read would be complete nonsense. Browse for an hour or so in the Library of Babel and find out for yourself. There is a tool which lets you type in a passage and find it in the library. This is cool but again useless because you already have the story in front of you.
Still, the concept of a library housing every possible communication that can possibly be written is pretty darn awesome. Perhaps an advanced computer, human, or alien in the distant future could decipher a way to locate the pages of only texts in discernable languages and pull them out. Borges story speaks of legends of a catalog that could guide a librarian to decipher the puzzle, but such a hope may only be fantasy. He also suggest that perhaps, every book may be discernable, but we just haven’t discovered the language to do so. What blows my mind is that this short review of the Library of Babel is already contained in the Library of Babel and was there before I even started typing it. So theoretically, someone could have found this before I ever thought it.
And here’s the link: https://libraryofbabel.info/bookmark.cgi?library_review
Links to the short story as well as the Portal for the Library of Babel website:
As always…what are your thoughts?