Miracle of binary

The ultimate absurdity is now staring us in the face: a universal library of two volumes, one containing a single dot and the other a dash. Persistent repetition and alternation of the two is sufficient, we well know, for spelling out any and every truth. The miracle of the finite but universal library is a mere inflation of the miracle of binary notation: everything worth saying, and everything else as well, can be said with two characters. It is a letdown befitting the Wizard of Oz, but it has been a boon to computers.

– Willard van Orman Quine on the Universal Library

(via Borges’ Library of Babel indirectly found via Dan Connolly’s RDFization of the animals quote)

This somehow reminded me of a couple other links I found earlier on Turing Machines built in Conway’s game of Life: one from Paul Rendell, another from Paul Chapman. These machines also have a kind of strange beauty

One Response to Miracle of binary

  1. Ben Toth says:

    Borges’ story is a critique of the ambiguities, redundancies and deficiencies of taxonomies and ontologies which arise in the gap between words and things. Turning his animal categories into RDF adds to his critique, but he would have found it amusing in an ironic way.

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