The infinite monkey theorem is the one where you put a monkey in front of a typewriter and let it mash at random keys for an infinite amount of time. After a while, the monkey will type out the complete manuscript for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The problem, of course, is that the duration of ‘a while’ is likely many orders of magnitude longer than the age of the universe.

Yet, it only took something like 315,000 years from the evolution of Homo sapiens before we chanced upon the birth of William Shakespeare. It then took Shakespeare another thirty-six years of practice and experience before he would eventually write the complete manuscript for Hamlet… So four hundred and twenty years ago it took humanity the exact age of the universe to get to Hamlet.

I think that’s why I have been loving the output before input challenge. Each morning when I grab my notebook and pencil, I sketch out a new idea. I’m by no ways guaranteed to leave a Shakespearean dent on humanity. Most of my work will be rubbish – the human equivalent of garbled nonsense. But what if I keep at it every day, like an infinite monkey ready to be shot into the unknown? Well, that significantly increases the odds that I’ll do something worthy of being preserved by society.

A photo of a typewriter that was used in the Tom Sachs swiss passport office

Originally written for the Sachsian Syndicate.

Previously: TGIM 16 - … “Dad! I got Nike sponsorship.” He laughed and asked, “For what?”


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