Library of Babel

The Library of Babel is a place for scholars to do research, for artists and writers to seek inspiration, for anyone with curiosity or a sense of humor to reflect on the weirdness of existence - in short, it’s just like any other library. If completed, it would contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters, including lower case letters, space, comma, and period.

Thus, it would contain every book that ever has been written, and every book that ever could be - including every play, every song, every scientific paper, every legal decision, every constitution, every piece of scripture, and so on. At present it contains all possible pages of 3200 characters, about 10·4677 books.

Library of Babel

The Babel Image Archives are an application of the principle underlying Jorge Luis Borges' “The Library Of Babel” to the visual world. Borges' short story, the inspiration for, describes a universal library containing every possible permutation of 410 pages of letters, thus everything that ever has been or ever could be written.

Instead of letters and punctuation marks, the Image Archives permute the 4096 colors, and rather than a page of 40 lines each with 80 characters, the images are pixel grids with 416 rows and 640 columns.

It contains every image that ever has been or could be created with this color palette in these dimensions, including portraits of every person who ever lived at every moment in their life, digitized versions of every work of art ever created, even those lost to history, as well as every work of art which ever could be created, and photographs of your own birth, wedding, and funeral.


@stux I wonder what it would mean for copyright law if they actually generated all possible images, and wrote them to hard disk, or better, printed them to microfilm, and copyrighted every image.

@Coffee @stux someone tried doing this with music tunes recently, because the amount of short tunes isn’t actually that big. But most lawyers say this won’t stand up in court.

@newt @stux @Coffee

IANAL, but I think the motivation behind that is they'll say “it doesn't fall under copyright since it's machine-generated,” in which case you could use the tunes by saying “oh I just copied it from here and they don't fall under copyright” or they do fall under copyright and they're licensed under CC0 and you can use them freely.

Although I would assume that existing tunes before they were generated and published wouldn't be effected either way because of prior art.

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masto instance for the tildeverse