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The Million Monkey Meme
July 8, 2003 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Concevons un million de singes à frapper au hasard sur les touches d'une machine à écrire ... A short history of the Million Monkey Meme, 1913-1996.
posted by carter (19 comments total)

 
Nice, thanks
posted by crunchburger at 6:12 PM on July 8, 2003


Come to think of it, there are already a million monkeys on a million typewriters, and Usenet is NOTHING like Shakespeare
Classic.
posted by dg at 6:15 PM on July 8, 2003


One thing I like about MeFi is the spill over from one thread to the next. Miguel posted (a now deleted) thread to MeTa that was picked up and then posted on the front page. That thread gave way to this comment, which I presume caused carter to post this thread. Interesting and a cool post on its own.
posted by elwoodwiles at 6:23 PM on July 8, 2003


What's that weird dead language I see interspersed in that page?
posted by wackybrit at 6:38 PM on July 8, 2003


Agreed. In fact, this post may be the sole justification for the other posts (if indeed its posting was caused by the others).

Something else: I rarely see discussed with the monkey meme the idea of how you'd pick Shakespear out of this massive body of text. If any given sequence of text is just as likely as any other, you're going to have a massive amount of text to look through. If you know the Twelfth Night is going to be in there, you can search on a given bit of text from that play. But if you're talking about Searching for Shakespear in the sense of discovering well-done, meaningful writing, then the problem is much, much harder.

I bring this up because I think it's possible that usenet actually has produced some wonderful stuff, as has the net -- but the problem is finding it. Which brings us back to a certain blue-and-yellow website....
posted by namespan at 6:48 PM on July 8, 2003


namespan, try Borges' story The Library of Babel.
posted by crunchburger at 6:53 PM on July 8, 2003


If you know the Twelfth Night is going to be in there, you can search on a given bit of text from that play.

But that wouldn't help much, since the monkey may have only produced the piece of text you're looking for, and not the entire play verbatim.

I'd say the best representation of the probability of the monkey writing an abstractly long verbatim version of anything would be , where t represents time. However, if you wanted to take into account typing speed, multiple monkeys, and the length of the specific text you want to do the probability for, then it gets a bit harder.

P.S. Shakespeare.
posted by wackybrit at 6:58 PM on July 8, 2003


Then there's the Hundredth Monkey Meme, in which the works of Shakespeare are not written, but potatoes are washed.

Or not.
posted by jokeefe at 7:24 PM on July 8, 2003


namespan, the trick is to train a second million monkey mob to be readers.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:25 PM on July 8, 2003


which brings us back to this little blue-and-yellow website....
posted by namespan at 7:35 PM on July 8, 2003


[this is good]
posted by plep at 9:31 PM on July 8, 2003


Heh. Monkeys.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:07 PM on July 8, 2003


So, what you're saying is that it's this whole "monkey thing" that's responsible for the Britney Spears post?

This post, on the other hand, gets a five-banana rating. Thanks!
posted by taz at 11:55 PM on July 8, 2003


jokeefe & crunchburger: thanks for the excellent extra links. wackybrit: thanks for correcting my embarrasing spelling problem. Can you do something for my complexion, too?
posted by namespan at 9:32 AM on July 9, 2003


Excellent. Now can anyone tell me the origin of "thing, schming"? You know, like "history, schmistory" or "monkeys, schmonkeys" as a statement of dismissal?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:42 AM on July 9, 2003


wackybrit: Afraid not, having me sort out beauty problems would be like an African giving sex-ed classes.
posted by wackybrit at 10:10 AM on July 9, 2003


Excellent. Now can anyone tell me the origin of "thing, schming"? You know, like "history, schmistory" or "monkeys, schmonkeys" as a statement of dismissal?

Since you asked, PST...
posted by LinusMines at 10:55 AM on July 9, 2003


Since you asked, PST...

You know, I read the Rosten book years ago and for some reason that fact didn't stick. Yiddish, is there anything it can't do? Thank you LinusMines, you funktastic space cowboy you.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:01 AM on July 9, 2003


One of my favourites was a bumper sticker I saw during the days of Y2K fever that read, "Millenium Schmillenium".
posted by carter at 11:12 AM on July 9, 2003


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