Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Paper library in a pack of cards

One character a book.
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A box the size and shape of a pack of playing cards, though slightly thicker, containing five dozen playing cards of the same size, shape and texture as standard playing cards. Each card is printed double-sided with a grid of characters, three dozen lines of two dozen columns, making five dozen zagier characters (one hundred and three thousand six hundred and eighty in decimal). This could be achieved in Marain style (RIP IMB) by using a four-by-five grid of black and white dots. Each character represents the entire text of a book. The first card contains the classics of literature, the second the top bestsellers of all time not included on the first card, the third the most significant non-fiction books and so forth. The characters can also be pronounced as strings of two consonant-vowel syllables, making the whole scheme somewhat like a Darmok-like language (as in Star Trek TNG). Each CV syllable represents a nine-bit integer corresponding to roughly half of the character.

When you read a book, if it is in some way important to you, you memorise the associated character, which automatically provides you with the word to pronounce it. You are therefore able to summarise Proust in a single word, for example, or quote the entire Bible. You can therefore carry the equivalent of a large city library in print in your pocket, and drop the text of probably most of the books you care to into your conversation. Pseuds can do this without having read the books. You can also use these words in other ways. For instance, you can use the word for "Nineteen Eighty-Four" to refer to what you feel is excessive surveillance or doublethink.

If you wish to refer to a specific passage, you use a string of words of this kind: the text of the book, the word number (make it a two dozen bit number, or a three-syllable word to be on the safe side) and the length of the passage in words as a second such number. It is therefore possible to use the words as a code for the English language by quoting single words from known books, though even a one-letter word would have eight syllables using that system.

Instead of reading a book, you pick a card from the pack, locate the appropriate character and read it, thereby experiencing the entire novel, treatise, textbook, biography or whatever you like in one pithy chunk.

An informed listener can then listen carefully to conversations and attempt to reconstruct the books from the way in which the words are used.

nineteenthly, Jun 30 2013

Marain alphabet http://www.omniglot.../writing/marain.htm
Creation of Iain M. Banks (hence the IMB RIP reference, presumably). [jurist, Jul 01 2013]


       Nothing in Don Zagier's work allows infinite data compression. If you're referring to something else you must be more clear about it. If this is general silliness and no "zafier character" exists, please don't invent magic.
Voice, Jun 30 2013

       //making five dozen zagier characters//   

       And what (for the sake of lazy people like me who believe that any uncommon terms ought to be briefly explained in the body of an idea) is zagier character?   

       And, for that matter, how about "Marain", "IMB" and "Darmok"?   

       Terms which are not part of the common patholex of the intended congrove of readers ought to be explained, for readability if not courtesy.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 30 2013

       I think I might have been a lot happier with this idea if all five dozen cards had just been a collection of microdots, readable by anyone with access to an electron microscope and knowledge of the author's language. Otherwise, I, too, am sort of non-plussed by the jargonistic references to fictional language creations as if we all should be as familiar with the creations of IMB as RLS or TSE. [EDIT: The inclusion of RLS and TSE was meant to be a playful poke in the ribs to nineteenthly's use of jargon. RLS and TSE are mostly recognized by dedicated crossword puzzlers as the oft-used shorthand clues for Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Stearns Eliot.]
jurist, Jul 01 2013

       Marain - language out of the Culture books, IMB - Iain M Banks , TSE - Times Education Supplement. Ok, I lied about the last one.   

       Hmm, as the resident HB necromancer I have to wonder at the value of a comeback book....
not_morrison_rm, Jul 01 2013

       um whu-t?
pashute, Jul 01 2013

       Tokyo Stock Exchange?
not_morrison_rm, Jul 01 2013

       It's a little unfair for me to string letters together on here in such a way, but i tend to be passive-aggressive about communication elsewhere due to being ignored. This has a feedback effect. Having said that, it's unclear to what extent any two people share a world and can communicate effectively. Consider this an apology.   

       The idea is this:   

       Represent an entire book using a single character consisting of a 4x5 grid of dots. These characters are pronounceable as two-syllable words, each syllable representing a nine-bit number. Once you have read a book, you memorise the character, so you can use the pack of cards for reminiscence, and also use the book in conversation. However, you can also bluff and pretend to have read the book by dropping the word casually into conversation without having read it at the risk of being found out.
nineteenthly, Jul 01 2013

       But don't book titles already fulfil this role?
pocmloc, Jul 01 2013

       Ironically Marain can only do "hahfbahkuhrih". So the future is populated by old Etonians or drunks?
not_morrison_rm, Jul 02 2013

       // i tend to be passive-aggressive about communication elsewhere due to being ignored.// Are they? Apparently she's through to the quarter finals this year.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 02 2013

       //But don't book titles already fulfil this role?// Pwft! That's so old school.
(mans)laughter, Jul 03 2013

       Re. data compression, a five-by-four grid gives you twenty bits of data. My first thought was that this is not enough to store "Oh." On the other hand, it is enough to store any one of 2^20 different values.   

       Provided, then, that the universe of referenceable books keeps its cardinality under a trillian, all you need is a hash table - possibly stored inside a USB-pluggable device resembling a card table - and the knack of looking up into it.   

       This countervailing croissant [+] ought by rights to be a madeleine.
pertinax, Jul 03 2013


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