Infinite monkey theorem – the key of the Generative Web?

The infinite monkey theore states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time, will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. With 24 hours of video uploaded every minute on YouTube, there are a lot of ‘monkeys’ who are hitting their ‘typewriters’ in creating their next master piece. So actually it isn’t surprising that the there is a really great video on YouTube every now and then which is considered a masterpiece (just a matter of enough ‘monkeys’).

Providing a typewriter

Google now offers the search stories video creator (you may name it a typewriter) to its audience (nearly infinite ‘monkeys’) to create search stories (ads?) such as Google did for their Super Bowl Search ad. With an audience that is nearly infinite (and since the number of Internet connections is growing it seems infinite) and with an easy tool, we shouldn’t be that surprised if the next ad for Google on the Super Bowl is created by a ‘monkey’ on their search stories typewriter. Just a matter of time.

If you have the time and the tools to make sure you help infinite monkeys hitting random keys on a keyboard, than you’ll have a good result in the end. However, that can take a long time. Therefore a company such as Threadless is limiting the randomness and have a set of rules to which the designs of the ‘monkeys’ should comply. And since the ‘monkeys’ that are creating designs for Threadless are not just merely hitting random keys, (or in this case moving their paintbrush randomly in Photoshop) a lot of designes that would be declined aren’t created and therefore a great design will be popping up a lot faster.

Monkey business

So is the web just monkey business? It might be, if you let things flow unstructuredly. However, Threadless turned the monkey business in something valuable (Threadless’s revenue is $30 million) by helping their ‘monkeys with a set of rules’. Google is helping their ‘monkeys’ as well  by providing them a typewriter with limited keys. So if you can reach out to enough ‘monkeys’ that have a ‘typewriter’ and enough time to hit keys at random, you too might get value from them. Just make sure that you either have enough time or that you set a clear playing field for the ‘monkeys’.