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Can the Internet Write a Book in 1 Day? 138

An anonymous reader writes "A whole book will be created, from start to finish on March 21, 1999 (including the topics, all aspects of organization, etc). Claus Sørensen (Initiator of ELY) want to dramatically demonstrate what world-wide collaboration and the open source method is capable of."
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Can the Internet Write a Book in 1 Day?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    A) I can write a whole book in a day. So what if it's all crap and giberish, I can still do it.

    B) 1000 monkeys on 1000 computers can write a book in one day.

    C) I'm going to be part of of this book writing thing and submit incorrect information that can't be researched for validity, such as autobiographic information on somebody who is dead but I knew the person well enough to have information that can't be found anywhere else. But instead I'll make up lies!

    D) I'll sign up as an editor and add new mistakes by accident because I'm lazy.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This exercise will be less about OSS, and more about the classic adage of an infinite number of monkeys writing a novel... I find it hilarious that this is positive spin for OSS. Using the monkey adage, one can simply surmise the success of Lunix is based upon the availability of enough monkeys to write it...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know if they exceeded their bandwidth limit or what, but here is a bit more information, including the organizer's email address. []

  • and where might somebody find this CD?
  • Posted by hansc:

    The book would be appropriately titled "the Shaggy Dog story." Because, it would go on and on and on. Although, I don't doubt that thousands of people across the Internet could write a book length something, just look at all the crap /. comments produce. It just won't be a very good book, but because it's all hype and Internet bullshit, it will probably be a profitable book. Damn.
    Proud member of SVLUG
  • Posted by sgupta:

    Yeah, right. This will more likely show how silly a bunch of people can be. Open source is a nice idea, but these people are starting to sound like the legalize hemp crowd: "Open source will save the world!", "Did you know George Washington used open source? It's true!" It's a good idea, not the second coming.

    I predict this thing will either blow over (I can't even get into the site), or it will be as successful as the Windows Refund Day. I can't wait to see where Obi Wan appears in this soon-to-be work of art.
  • Posted by bluesboy:

    What's "the power of OpenSource" got to do with writing a book without coordination, idea and probably without meaning?

    I am a Dane, and have found some pages describing their idea in danish (, here is a quote [my translation]: "We will attempt to compose a book, stating the status of Linux in Europe anno 1999. Since the idea is, that no plans should be made, we must each keep our idea's to ourselves".

    There is no concrete idea or purpose stated anywhere.....

    If we wish to give OpenSource a good name, we should stop yelling "OpenSource" every time we do something that's so bad that someone else has to fix it for us.
  • Posted by hollowman:

    I am curious to know where this infinite monkey thing first came about. Do you think it was Douglas Adams? Is that at all possible, or does it predate him and I'm just too illiterate to realize this because whenever I see infinite monkeys I'm reminded of that 'smashingly good script to Hamlet', which I suppose, is the least of their capabilities if they are truly infinite.

  • Posted by |Devoid|:

    I was discussing this with some people the other day, the variations in infinities. There is a word that I can't recall that represents a multiple of infinities, but for example you can take a simple infinity like all the natural numbers (0,1,2,3,4,5..) and obviously by adding one each time you can go on forever. But between each jump in natural numbers (1 to 2, 2 to 3) there is an infinite number of real numbers. Hence the infinity of real numbers is in some way larger than that of natural numbers.

    When dealing with probability though, you can look at an example like that in the movie Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead (highly recommended). One of the pair flips a coin hundreds of times, and every single time it comes up heads. Each instance can be taken as an individual probability of 50/50, so there's even odds it will come out heads or tails each time. The problem that occurs is that as you repeat, the probability for the same occurance every time drops dramatically, but there always exists the possibility that it will land heads. In the same way, there exists a possibility such that an infinite number of moneys typing on an infinite number of typewriters will all hit the exact same key over and over again. However it's highly unlikely. Of course, it's highly unlikely you'll ever get that many monkeys typing, and if you do, I'm not cleaning up after them.

  • if you put a million monkeys at a million keyboards, you end up with warez and porn.
  • by mholve ( 1101 )
    "It was once said that a million monkeys typing at a million keyboards could reproduce the works of William Shakespeare. Now, with the Internet, we know this not to be true."
  • ...thanks. :)
  • After that, we'll get 9 women to produce a child in 1 month.
  • Why? This is like saying that any number has to be contained in a nonterminating, nonrepeating decimal. Consider:
    0.1010010001000010000010000001000000010 000001000000000.....

    Obviously that will never contain, say, the digits 42. Another example...if no monkey typed the letter "j", Romeo and Juliet would be unlikely to be produced. Obviously, one would almost certainly type it; however, I don't see any reason to think that it's required that Shakespeare's works be generated. Any particular finite string of characters could be absent from the output.

  • Of course, some people will use Linux, so RMS will be moping around that people should call it the GNU/Internet Book
  • How long would they take to write a bible?

  • 1) You're pretty good at making people respond to things, no matter what the topic is
    2) People here are good at making good and bad comments
    3) Given the amount of participation, I think we could get one in 7 hours. That's when the more popular topics exceed a couple hundred posts.

    The only problem is getting rid of the first comment posts, the "me too" posts, and all the dupes from people who don't read what other people wrote.

  • Don't forgot "How cool it would be if I built a beowulf cluster of those machines"
  • Since the site went *poof*, some of us can only speculate on what kind of book it will be. With a thousand writers, editors, subject matter experts all looking at well-defined (and thus easily outline-able) technical topic, I have no doubt that the book could be done (and done well) in a day.

    Any doubts? I'm sure there are links to the housebuilding competition (in Calif. I think) where homebuilders plan out the complete construction of a home from the ground up, including landscaping, appliances, etc. The current record is 2:10 or thereabouts. They used about 300 skilled craftspeople working in parallel (ex: roof constructed at same time as walls, then placed by crane), and did a quality job, i.e. there are people who purchased and live in these homes. (It's been a few months since I saw the documentary film on it, so I might be a little off on the time, or the record might have been broken by now.) It really is amazing what you can do with a good plan combined with good people.

    If, on the other hand, we're talking about creating a novel, I'd subscribe to the previous poster's comment about expecting a baby in a month by having 9 women become pregnant. Ain't gonna happen. That would be more in the realm of direct mindshare than a shared task. And if by some chance it did happen, I'd be frightened that the Borg walked among us.
  • Here's the details of the video documenting this (The title is misleading; 4 hours was the *previous* record). A book should be no problem.

    Title Four hour house [videorecording]
    Call Number TH4812 .F68 1992
    Other Title 4 hour house.
    Publisher San Diego, Calif. : Image Dynamics, c1992.
    Description 1 videocassette (25 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
    Credits Producer, Bertrand Wilbur.
    Two construction teams compete against each other for world
    record in building a house. Illustrates the value of
    teamwork, planning and communication, and includes the issue
    of quality control.
    Subject(s) House construction.
    House construction Quality control.
    Construction industry Quality control.
    Quality control.
    Wilbur, Bertrand.
    Building Industry Association of San Diego County.
    Image Dynamics.

    order info: BIA, 1-800-746-0440
  • To say nothing of the infinite amount of monkey poop they would generate... that could really be a problem.

    This has already been done. Witness NT source code. Now they just have to debug and demaggot it to get the right version.
  • It's long been said that an infinite number of monkeys, pounding away at an infinite number of
    typewriters, would eventually recreate the works of William Shakespeare. Thanks to the
    Internet, we now know that this is not true.
    ~Brandzburg v. Hayes

    Clearly he doesn't understand infinities. As soon as infinitely many monkeys typed one letter each on infinitely many typewriters, the resulting text would include *all* the works of Shakespere.

    Infinity is big.
  • Read a bit about Set Theory especially Cantor's theory of the infinite. There is lots of good stuff there, very simple yet profound truths. Like one farmer can tell whether he has more sheep than another even if he can't count, (he can just match the sheep up one by one and who ever owns the left over sheep has the most). This same method can be used compare the sizes of sets. By doing this we find that some infinite sets (the real numbers) are larger than others (the integers) As I thought little more about it, my orginal comment about infinitely manu monkeys wasn't right. After all all the monkeys could type the letter "A" and the entire text would consist of an infinitely long sequence of "A"s. In any case the original point was about a finite number of monkeys banging randomly on a bunch of typewriters for a really long time.... Another way to consider this problem is to write a program that will generate every possible page of text by simply going through all the combinations of letters on a 80 columns by 100 lines page. There is only finitely many such pages, but they include all the written works that were produced or ever will be produced.... ...richie
  • A friend of mine.. and a few artists from around the world composed a cd on the internet.. which is actually very good.. so why not.. I mean look at how many posts slashdot gets.. I'm sure a book can be written in a day.. now the quality.. in a day.. well.. thats debatable

  • administrated a setup of two Sun Server's with 80 NeXT stations

    It took eighty NeXT stations to administrate two Sun Servers??? :-)

    Not quite what you meant to say, I suspect.

  • Sigh. Ok, the humor is in the misquoting.. Think of all the AOL-stereotypes and WebTV kids, not to mention the people who are getting the PIII for it's 'enhanced Internet capability'.. do they or do they not remind you of a 'million monkeys' clacking away happily on their keyboards?

    There's plenty of monkeys out there.. just waiting for their chance at their very own version of 'Much Ado About Nothing'.
  • >The people here could write a book in an hour if
    >it was about "Why I hate Apple, and you should

    Certainly wouldn't take long at all.

    Of course, it'd be one enormous factual error, but that's okay. There's a market for that.

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • Apparently, you misunderstand the meaning of Infinity, my friend.

  • well, no, we have more than one bible allready, its just that you, like most people, assume that the word "bible" only refers to the main text of the christians, and not to anything else. there are also, say, the Mac Bible, and teh BeOS bible, to take 2 more secular ones. also, i beleve that any text that is the main work for a religion can be refered to as a bible.
  • Why not, i allways try to start a few each week.. this weeks one is based on post-it notes.. dont ask..
  • by aphr0 ( 7423 )
    "8,001 overdone cheezy ways to say the name of any non linux OS."

    winblows, windoze, winsloth, win....
    crapintosh, macintrash....

    An entire book could be written using only the combined creative forces of 12 year old boys trying to make other OS's look bad by coming up with ULTRA clever parodies for their names. Keep up the good work.

  • The link sends me to a "forbidden" page.

    Wah wah wahh......
  • Dude man, it's my sig. Chill out guys.

    (which reminds me to go to the preferences section to add the "--\n" at the beginning of my .sig.
  • Although you get a lot closer when you get rid of the bits in which Ewoks kill stormtroopers!
  • After each monkey had typed one letter, there would be an infinite number of pages with exactly one letter typed on them. Given that in no case can one letter be considered equivalent to the works of Shakespeare, exactly zero of the monkeys would have reproduced Shakespeare at that point.
  • I glad someone pointed this out.

  • Infinity is not a number, it's a mathematical concept.
    You started off so promisingly.

    You can't actually get an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters together.
    Let's just stick to mathematics.

    Your example about a nonterminating, nonrepeating decimal doesn't really apply with monkeys and typewriters.
    Actually the analogy fits very well.

    In fact, since you didn't even type out your example number all the way, ....

    Ellipsis (...) is a mathematical notion. For example I may write 0.0101000100000001000000... to mean:

    The limit as n tends to infinity of the sum 0.1^(2^i) where i is an element of the set of integers from 1 to n.

    ...Whatever the chance may be that a monkey will not press a given key, it approaches zero as the number of monkeys at work approaches infinity
    Approaches but never reaches zero. So no matter how many keys a monkey types there is always a non-zero probability that the monkey types just one key many times.

    So, at infinity, which is attainable in a thought experiment...
    This is rubbish, or at least it is a sequence of words with no mathematical relevancy.

    Instead of thinking about a monkey typing consider a sequency of digits, let d(i) denote the ith digit in the sequence. Let x be the limit as n tends to infinity* of the sum (0.1^i)*d(i) where i is an element of the set of integers from 1 to n.
    Now x does not necessarily contain the sequence of digits 123 (for instance if x = 0.000... = 0),and in fact we can not be certain that it will contain any given sequence. By the same logic (or a weakened form of it as we have left our pristine mathematical environment) a monkey typing an infinite sequence of characters will not necessarily reproduce any work of Shakespeare.

    *If you want a rigorous definition of what the statement the limit as n tends to infinity means visit your nearest library and pick up a book on Calculus that covers "Sequences and Series", any half decent university Calculus text book will cover this.
  • If any non-zero probability situation is repeated an infinite amount of times, the probability becomes one for that set.

    Your thinking is not rigorous enough. "repeated an infinite amount of times" has no mathematical meaning.

    Follow my advice and read a bit about sequences and series. Understand what it means for a sequence to converge to a value (learn and understand the rigorous definition which is something like the sequence a(n) converges to x if for all epsilon > 0 there exists an N such that for all n > N, |a(n) - x| epsilon).

    Try to find a text that explains how to construct the real numbers out of the integers (we take the set of all integer sequences that converge and partition it by placing sequences in the same partition if they converge to the same value, each partition defines one real number). (There is real beauty here, especially after dealing with these real numbers purely on the basis of (13) axioms that define their behaviour).

    Read a bit about Set Theory especially Cantor's theory of the infinite. There is lots of good stuff there, very simple yet profound truths. Like one farmer can tell whether he has more sheep than another even if he can't count, (he can just match the sheep up one by one and who ever owns the left over sheep has the most). This same method can be used compare the sizes of sets. By doing this we find that some infinite sets (the real numbers) are larger than others (the integers).

    Then you will understand infinity.
  • Excellent proof of what one feels intuitively to be the case. Incidentally, wasn't the monkeys-typing-shakespeare thought experiment intended to prove the viability of the "primordial soup" theory of the origin of life? IE, with all those amino acids floating around they simply had to combine in the right way sooner or later to create life, right? As someone else said, about as likely as a hurricane blowing through a junkyard and assembling a 747. It always amuses me that the extent to which some scientists will go to exclude God from the universe puts religious fanatics to shame.
  • The analogy is simply predicated on the complexity of 747-type structures and the likelihood of their being assembled from building blocks by a random force, and the complexity of living cells and the likelihood of their being assembled from building blocks by a random force. Analogies do not need to correspond at every level to be valid: a complete correspondence would not be an analogy but an identity. I concede that you have proved your contention that you are uninformed.
  • Hey! Who the hell's gonna clean up all this monkey shit?
  • The general opinion here seems to be like what
    was written in an old book about the ibm os/360
    project called the "Mythical Man Month" - if it
    takes 60 programmers 6 months to write an os, it
    will take 120 programmers only 6 months to write the same os.

    If 8 perl programmers take 8 days to write 8 programs, how long will it take 16 programmers to write 16 programs? ANS: 8 days.

    Dr. Software Speaks []
  • This certainly won't be a magnum opus of literature. Writing good prose is like being pregnant; trying to get a baby in only one month by getting nine women pregnant doesn't work. Writing (and rewriting, revising, editing, etc.) a coherent piece of prose takes time - just like architecting, writing, testing, and improving a large, robust piece of software. (Think a worldwide team of OSS developers could recreate all of Linux in 24 hours?)
  • How is writing a book in one day going to effectively demonstrate "what world-wide collaboration and the open-source method" can do?

    This project should not be used as an example of the strengths of the open-source development model, since this book will likely be a poorly-organized and largely useless piece of trash.

    (Just like any OSS software written in 24 hours from scratch, I'd bet.)

    Look how long it took Linux to get from the raw kernel Linus started to the OS that's stable and efficient enough to use today; look at how long it's taking for Mozilla to get something out the door.

    The real strength of the open-source development model is that, if mistakes are made, there are a LOT more eyes to catch, correct, and distribute fixes for them.

    Jay (=
  • If this is to be build like an Open Source book, then you need more time. One of the strengths of Open Source is the continues testing/debuging/reviewing of the programs. This obviously needs time and can hardly be done within 24 hours..
  • bananas?!?!? what about typewriters?!?
    How many volumes of Shakespeare will be written
    that day?
  • As i'm sure many others are aware of, a Mac is NOT the same as a NeXT. At the operating system level, they cannot even be compared because the NeXTs are so much superior. Jeez...Mac's don't even use protected memory. Sure, the NeXTs ran on slow hardware, but i would rather use a NeXT than a Mac.


  • Becuase he said that HE administrated setting up the servers. You see, the commas form an interjection. But if you take out the stuff between the commas the sentence should be perfectly clear to someone with no short-term memory
  • To put together their bull shit and convince people that it wasn't all a scam. Then people realized: Wait! I shouldn't have to reboot just because I installed a new program!

    Windoze. . . what a crock of shit.
  • I thought of organizing a collaberative open source book project just a couple weeks ago, but of course I sat on my butt and didn't do anything to implement the idea. Jeez, you have to be fast these days...

    Bravery, Kindness, Clarity, Honesty, Compassion, Generosity

  • Or, we could take a random sampling of /. chatter and filter it through good 'ol Babble and compare it to the book. That might not be a bad idea, actually...
  • 1M Monkeys
    * 1M Years
    * 4 (4 apendages per monkey)
    * 100 words per minute
    * 6 letters per word
    * .5M minutes per year
    ~ 1.2 X 10^21

    26 distinct letters
    ^ 15 characters per phrase
    ~ 1.6 X 10^21

    That's not counting spaces, punctuation and numbers (forget about case sensitive)

  • Dude, chill.... That's just his sig line.

  • I would like to take this time to accurately quote this and give credit to the author.

    It's long been said that an infinite number of monkeys, pounding away at an infinite number of typewriters, would eventually recreate the works of William Shakespeare. Thanks to the Internet, we now know that this is not true.
    ~Brandzburg v. Hayes~

  • Bob is an idiot.
    I am sure he have crack in that smoking pipe.

  • yeah, you're completely right.

    Whoever came up with this quote didn't know a damn thing about set theory. What the hell is "an infinite number" anyway?
  • Whatever server OS or Web server they run it still doesn't work good enough to withstand the /. effect :)
  • How do you like my signature? It doesn't have MS in it, though I did steal it from another /. user :)
  • > As for their example, devout Muslims would be
    > deeply offended if you referred to their holy
    > scriptures as the "Mohammedan Bible".

    I suppose you would be already dead ( about 5-10 seconds after you call those scriptures ( I think it is called Quaran, not sure of spelling though ) you will most probably find about a dozen ( or by the number of present muslims ) daggers in various parts of your body :) Islam is a very strict religion and it's followers are VERY religious and easily offended people :) )and therefore unable to apologize :)
  • What if they weren't going to create new material from scratch?

    A parallel distributed operation like this might be great for transcription of materials found in many disparate places, in pieces, or because of length, in portions, and collecting them. The problem with that model is that this data must somehow find it's way into people's hands, so if you wanted to transcribe every single article of the National Geographic into an electronic form in a day, which I'm sure can be done, it would require that each contributor have a relevant magazine beforehand. So if we held such an event at /., only people who actually have a subscription to NG could participate without a massive headache involved in getting every 10 people a different magazine, as well as making sure at least 1 of the 10 had a scanner to grab the photos in the mag.

    The alternative of course is to create the material from scratch, which is what is suggested that this operation is attempting. However, there is a distinct lack of quality control if no one person has the oversight or ability to edit and rewrite the entire thing, since a story, factual or fictional, is a serial thing.

  • See RFC 1925, "Fundamental Truths of Networking".

    Paragraph 2, section 7a:
    "Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick any two (you can't have all three)."

    For the complete text of the RFC, see html
  • Dictionaries report on what most people mean when they say certain words. a good dictionary would also report the definitions of many racial slurs. Doesn't mean they shoud be used. As for their example, devout Muslims would be deeply offended if you referred to their holy scriptures as the "Mohammedan Bible".
  • He can't check it? so he can't do:
    -------------- PASTE ------------------
    zero@nagash:/home/zero > telnet 80
    Connected to
    Escape character is '^]'.
    GET / HTTP/1.0

    HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
    Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 21:01:27 GMT
    Server: Apache/1.2.5 mod_perl/1.07
    Connection: close
    Content-Type: text/html

    403 Forbidden

    You don't have permission to access /
    on this server.

    Connection closed by foreign host.
    zero@nagash:/home/zero >
    -------------- END PASTE ---------------
    Warning! below you will see my signature

  • Actually there are multiple different *kinds* of infinities - an infinite number of them, in fact - some which are vaster than others. For example, there are an infinite number of powers of 2, but the number 3 is nowhere to be found in that infinite set.

    Actually I don't think it has been mathematically shown that there are an inifinite number of different types of infinity. However I'm not a set theoretician so I'm not sure on this point. I only know of two different types that commonly appear in mathematics, the countable inifinities and uncountable infinities. The example you give of the set of powers of 2 is equivalent to the set of rational numbers or integers even though it does not contain 3 or powers of 3.
  • -grin- I guess we'll have to wait for those hot quantum computers to hit the market...
  • If writing a book in one day is meant to hype OSS, why not write an entire Un*x kernel in one day? All we'd need would be a multi-layered organisation to filter out gross absurdities, and a really good bunch of good programmers...

    Then, we could give this kernel a name like "Harem-ess" to keep RMS happy...

    [And if it works, I propose we make a Micro$oft Week to rewrite every major apps they have so we can free the market...]
  • I don't think all /.'ers hate Apple, I for instance am a Sun person, but administrated a setup of two Sun Server's with 80 NeXT stations, for a while. NeXT is just brilliant, Mac is just the same, both are Steve Jobs showing how good he is at Computer Design. Both Apple and NeXT are Steve showing how much he SUCKS at marketing.

    Linux has a LONG road to go still before it becomes a desktop standard ANYWHERE in business, Mac and (UGH) Windows have proven their ability on the desktop. Neither can do servers worth beans.

    Now if someone can post the right URL I'm interested in this book...

  • Was this post contributed by 1000 monkeys, or just one?
  • Actually there are multiple different *kinds* of infinities - an infinite number of them, in fact - some which are vaster than others. For example, there are an infinite number of powers of 2, but the number 3 is nowhere to be found in that infinite set. Likewise, even if we postulate infinite monkeys and infinite keyboards, it does not follow that they will pound with true randomness - they might all be keyed to the same rand() seed, and therefore type infinite iterations of the same non-Shakespearean sequence.

    I recommend Rudy Rucker's book "Infinity & The Mind" for a thorough and entertaining treatment of this subject.

  • The goal is to produce a book in one day. Not finish one.

    Like an applicaiton "A [book] is never finished, just abondoned." G. Lucas.

  • This is going on right now (more or less) in Everything. I can't see that it would take a work to revise the code to allow the editing/appending of one topic, rather than thousands of interconnected topics.

    I agree, it would be interesting...
  • I thought it was a misuse of the term to say "bible" for the holy text of any religion, but Webster's dictionary backs you up.


    bible \Bi"ble\ (b[imac]"b'l), n. [F. bible, L. biblia, pl., fr. Gr. bibli`a, pl. of bibli`on, dim. of bi`blos, by`blos, book, prop.
    Egyptian papyrus.] 1. A book. [Obs.] --Chaucer.

    2. The Book by way of eminence, -- that is, the book which is made up of the writings accepted by Christians as of divine
    origin and authority, whether such writings be in the original language, or translated; the Scriptures of the Old and New
    Testaments; -- sometimes in a restricted sense, the Old Testament; as, King James's Bible; Douay Bible; Luther's Bible.
    Also, the book which is made up of writings similarly accepted by the Jews; as, a rabbinical Bible.

    3. A book containing the sacred writings belonging to any religion; as, the Koran is often called the Mohammedan Bible.
    Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Amen. Follow this logic...

    1. a book written by thousand of trained monkeys takes only one day
    2. even though it only took a day, it sucks
    3. linux was written by thousands of trained monkeys quickly
    4. therefore, linux must suck.
    I can't see how this book effort could possibly be a positive press item for OSS. Not only do OSS project greatly benefit from continual debugging and rewriting, but OSS projects also have somebody who dictates the overall design and ensures quality.

    Oh please.

  • Error

    The requested item could not be loaded by the proxy.

    Netscape Proxy is unable to locate the server: The server does not have a DNS entry.
    Check the server name in the Location (URL) and try again.
  • 1. He can't check it, silly. It's forbidden to him.
    2. That was his signature.
  • Yes, usenet is nothing like shakespeare......
  • The Heart of Gold, as I'm sure you know, used an infinite improbability drive. The thing about the infinite number of monkeys predates the Hitchhikers Guide and is a very famous thought experiment regarding probability. The point is that if you have either an infinite number of monkeys typing randomly and/or an infinite amount of time for them to work in, they will eventually produce the entire works of Shakespeare. Adams was parodying that, and demonstrating some of the working principles of the ship at the same time.
    There was a funny story based on the monkey idea by R.A. Lafferty titled "Been a Long, Long Time". It was about a seraph who was punished with indecision by being given the responsibility of overseeing six monkeys typing randomly to produce the complete works of Shakespeare. To keep time, the seraph was given a clock, made from a cubic parsec of solid stone and a bird that would come to sharpen its beak every thousand years. If you want to read the story, it's published in the Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy.
  • Infinity is not a number, it's a mathematical concept. You can't actually get an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters together.
    Your example about a nonterminating, nonrepeating decimal doesn't really apply with monkeys and typewriters. In fact, since you didn't even type out your example number all the way, I can't even be sure that it will never contain the digits 42. For all I can tell from what you show, the equation the number you give is based on could be: (some equation that generates a nonterminating, nonrepeating decimal with only the digits 0 and 1, with one more 0 being added between the ones each time) + 4.2*10^-56 or something else along those lines.
    In any case, it's silly to say that the monkey and typewriter thing might not work because there might be some restriction on what the monkeys can type. Obviously there will be some chance that the monkeys will press any given key. Whatever the chance may be that a monkey will not press a given key, it approaches zero as the number of monkeys at work approaches infinity. So, at infinity, which is attainable in a thought experiment, there really is zero chance that a given character that can be typed will be typed. Also, whatever the chance that Shakespeares entire works will be produced, with an infinite number of monkeys, they will be produced. Sure, the ratio of gibberish to complete works will redefine enormous, but that's not the point. In fact, the revised editions, total rewrites, modern retellings, etc. will probably dwarf the complete works. Of course, you'll still have an infinite number of complete works.
  • You can't just use "a very large number of" monkeys and typewriters. That doesn't provide any certainty. The point about the _infinite_ number of monkeys is that the chances that you won't get the complete works of Shakespeare drop to zero.
    Even if you had enough monkeys and typewriters to have three hundred quadrillion to one odds that you'd get the complete works of Shakespeare, there's still a chance that you won't.
  • Is the book gonna be open source and available for download on the net??? common...
  • Yes - it's gonna be licensed under Open Contents License.

    You can even print and publish it for free.

    See more at [].

    Claus Sørensen, Initiator of ELY.
  • No - it is not like trained monkeys. Everyone can contribute with material for the book - how it is gonna be organized and evolve you can see if you participate or just follow the website though the whole day.

    The URL is [].

    Claus Sørensen, Initiator of ELY
  • The project is managed - initial by me.

    The idea is that you only have the idea when you start. 24 hours later you have the product because of hundreds of peoples team work.

    The project is an Open Content project where we release some text and other proof read it etc.

    See more at [].

    Claus Sørensen, Initiator of ELY.
  • Because ordinary people don't understand the way Linux i developed. But hey understand what a book is - and that it take a long time to write a book.

    Here we show these ordinary people how powerful the Internet is if we do things together.

    That's why.

    See more at [].

    Claus Sørensen, Initiator of ELY.
  • First of all the project is organized. It is managed from the start - but what it will contain is not planned. Ad hoc management.

    Why do you think it becomes crappy?

    Is it because you won't review it and give your feed back to make the book better?

    Join the project - and see what you can do?

    Thanks in advance.

    See more at [].

    Claus Sørensen, Initiator of ELY.
  • We had some problems with the host for this projet but they are solved now.

    Join the project and show the World how we work in the Linux Community - in a way ordinary people understand.

    See more at [].

    Claus Sørensen, Initiator of ELY.
  • I remember a great sig I saw not too long ago that summarizes this rather well:

    you can have it done right
    you can have it done cheap
    you can have it done fast

    pick 2.

    Now let's see, this is supposed to be fast and free. What's left? :)
  • This is very similar to an old adage about MIT:

    Welcome to MIT!


    Choose two
  • One could set up the following system. Everyone accesses the page to read the story thus far, then they can either add a word, or vote on an existing selection of words. As soon as a certain word reaches some threshold, the word is accepted and the story grows by one word. Perhaps it would work better for entire sentences, or maybe paragraphs. I've seen worse books published!
  • Gwyneth hurled herself onto the brass bed in the middle of the Captain's cabin in the two-masted schooner.

    "Your bodice," heaved the Captain, "seems to be ripped."

    "Oh take me, you fine specimen of a 90s stereotype of a desirable hunky member of an oppressive, male-dominated society!" she groaned. "I'll do anything you want!"

    "Paint my house," he snarled, his lips curled in a Billy-Idolesque sneer....

    Yeah, we can do this.


I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.