Sunday, March 01, 2009


Carnegie Mellon University has provided a free CAPTCHA service that will help to digitize old books, newspapers, and radio shows. A Captcha is a program (software) that enables us to login or to post messages in social networking programs on the internet.. you type into a little box several times a day in all liklihood. You are a human and you can figure out what the word or sequence of letters are, but some mischievious program out on the internet cannot. A Captcha distinquishes a human from a non-human bot on the internet. ( If you took certain math or computer courses or just read, you might remember the Turing test. Think how this connects.)

A reCaptcha is enabling those of us who type these words in (about 200 million per day) to help in the digitizing of the world's books etc. I thought this was a really nice cooperative effort.. we get into the website and we translate at the same time. Now last night I found out not all people like this. They think we are working for nothing. Nevermind that someone else has scanned the books. Carnegie Mellon has provided the software free of charge. In all liklihood we will have free access to the materials once digitized accurately also (think about the Internet Public Library). At any rate, I thought I would throw this out to see what people think if anyone ever reads this blog.

Millions of people let grid computing projects use the extra cycles on their computer and these projects are attempting to solve some very big problems. One of my computers worked on protein sequencing. Lots of people's computers work on SETI. Some search for prime numbers. It seems to be these are wonderful cooperative uses of cycles that would be wasted while we are up getting a drink of water.

Evidently not all people thing that way. Wow, I was completely disappointed to learn that people purposefully mistranslate the word intended for decoding something in a book we may want to read.

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