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Category: open source

reCAPTCHA: crowdsourcing transcription comes to life

With a tag-line like ‘Stop Spam, Read Books’ – how can you not love reCAPTCHA? You might have already read about it on Boing Boing , or digitizationblog – but I just couldn’t let it go by without talking about it.

Haven’t heard about reCAPTCHA yet? Ok.. have you ever filled out an online form that made you look at an image and type the letters or numbers that you see? These ‘verify you are a human’ sorts of challenges are used everywhere from on-line concert ticket purchase sites who don’t want scalpers to get too many of the tickets to blogs that are trying to prevent spam. What reCAPTCHA has done is harness this user effort to assist in the transcription of hard to OCR text from digitized books in the Internet Archive. Their website has a great explanation about what they are doing – and they include this great graphic below to show why human intervention is needed. ... 

Book Review: Dreaming in Code (a book about why software is hard)

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software
(or “A book about why software is hard”) by Scott Rosenberg

Before I dive into my review of this book – I have to come clean. I must admit that I have lived and breathed the world of software development for years. I have, in fact, dreamt in code. That is NOT to say that I was programming in my dream, rather that the logic of the dream itself was rooted in the logic of the programming language I was learning at the time (they didn’t call it Oracle Bootcamp for nothing). ... 

My New Daydream: A Hosting Service for Digitized Collections

In her post Predictions over on, Merrilee asked “Where do you predict that universities, libraries, archives, and museums will be irresistibly drawn to pooling their efforts?” after reading this article.

And I say: what if there were an organization that created a free (or inexpensive fee-based) framework for hosting collections of digitized materials? What I am imagining is a large group of institutions conspiring to no longer be in charge of designing, building, installing, upgrading and supporting the websites that are the vehicle for sharing digital historical or scholarly materials. I am coming at this from the archivists perspective (also having just pondered the need for something like this in my recent post: Promise to Put It All Online ) – so I am imagining a central repository that would support the upload of digitized records, customizable metadata and a way to manage privacy and security. ... 

Session 510: Digital History and Digital Collections (aka, a fan letter for Roy and Dan)

There were lots of interesting ideas in the talks given by Dan Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig during their SAA session Archives Seminar: Possibilities and Problems of Digital History and Digital Collections (session 510).

Two big ideas were discussed: the first about historians and their relationship to internet archiving and the second about using the internet to create collections around significant events. These are not the same thing. ... 

SAA 2006 Session 103: “X” Marks the Spot: Archiving GIS Databases – Part I

‘X’ Marks the Spot was a fantastic first session for me at the SAA conference. I have had a facination with GIS (Geographic Information Systems) for a long time. I love the layers of information. I love the fact that you can represent information in a way that often makes you realize new things just from seeing it on a map.

Since my write-ups of each panelist is fairly long, I will put each in a separate post. ...