Library of Words

This blog post describes the rationale and motivation behind the Library of Words, a digital collection of pages filled with every possible combination of 320 words.

We are writers.

From the dawn of the human species, we have always found the need to communicate. We developed complex languages that could accurately describe our abstract thoughts and feelings. That was the step that set us apart from other species. Yet, spoken language was not enough. We felt imprisoned by its locality. We needed a form of communication which would span through space and time. Something which would make our finite and minuscule spark of existence immortal. The answer was yet to be written in stone, literally (1), but when it was, we soon realized its power. Writing elevated us and made us progress as a species. It was not simply a tool to make our thoughts durable, but also a way for people from other places and times to explore new ideas and build on them. Single minds created the seeds, but the collectivity could finally make them sprout and bloom, thanks to writing.

Science is founded on writing. Progress and new discoveries are a slow and steady process which could not happen within a single lifetime. As Isaac Newton once stated in a letter to his rival Robert Hooke: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” (2). Those giants are not single individuals, but a collection of revisited, accumulated thoughts and ideas of many people from the past. Writing is one of the most important part of research, it is what makes you one of the giants.

Writing goes hand in hand with reading. But reading has a darker shade. Pieces of writing are potentially eternal, and if every human writes something, the amount of scripta must be immense. If everybody on Earth writes a single word in this second, the combined corpus of words would form the equivalent of about 9,000 bibles. That’s the potential amount of writing the human race can produce in an instant. But we write considerably more than a single word in our lifetime, so nobody can ever read every single word ever written. We are restrained by our own finite time boundaries and each one of us can only put a microscopic tap into the colossal source of knowledge. That is why we specialize and why it gets harder to do so with time. That is why we select books to read and summarize them. And that is why we share our knowledge.