Twitter’s Word by Word typewriter to write the Complete Works at Shakespeare’s Globe

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Emile Borel’s infinite monkey theorem suggests 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 for example.

Whilst that remains to be proven, here at Twitter we’re putting a modern day twist on the idea - challenging a Twitter typewriter to source Tweets in real time in order to replicate the Bard’s works.

Working in partnership with the Globe Theatre, the machine will be stationed in the foyer of the world famous Elizabethan playhouse from May 5.

Over a period of months, live Tweets will be sourced until the Complete Works, including all 37 plays and 154 sonnets, have been gradually revealed.

The typewriter will stop when it cannot find the next word – at which point, the public will be asked to help out by tweeting it themselves, using the hashtag #TheCompleteTweets.

The ‘Word by Word’ typewriter, which was conceptualised by Hiveworks and created by Pixie Labs for Twitter’s #PoweredByTweets exhibition at Somerset House last year, has been brought back to life to celebrate #Shakespeare400.

The display includes the typewriter and a screen showing the manuscript in progress, working from the W.W. Norton definitive version of the text. Visitors can also see the play title, word count, the percentage of the work completed so far and the next word required, allowing them to follow along in real time.