How You Can Help/Have Helped Digitize Literature

The ways in which people are digitizing books is amazing, especially because you’ve likely already helped digitize a book by using Captcha.

It’s a tool that makes sure an internet user is a real person who can read funny-looking words and not a malicious computer program looking to cause trouble.  When these Captcha tests first appeared, they had one crazy looking word or code to copy.  Now, they often have two words… one that is there to test you… and one that is a scanned word from a book for you to help digitize.  The inventor of Captcha realized that he could use this tool to crowd source and create a form of digitizing books that is more reliable than a computer.  Since people are better at reading printed words than computers, it made perfect sense to use an application that was already dependent on people reading better than computers.
You gotta hear the story from the man himself:

Here’s a mistake that the computer made when scanning a book. The word “they” is upside down, but a computer user will hopefully recognize this and type “they” instead of “yeht”.

Another great way to help digitize literature is through Librivox.  It’s a place for anyone to help digitize a book by recording themselves reading literature that is in the public domain.  Anyone can volunteer to create free audiobooks for Librivox.  You can read a chapter of a novel, a poem, a short story, or a role in a play.  Librivox builds a catalog of free audiobooks in the public domain through volunteers who want to digitize books in an audio format.

You can learn how to voluneer to read for Librivox or browse their growing selection of free audiobooks.  It’s great for English majors or anyone taking the mandatory Humanities courses at Geneseo!

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