Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crowdsource-a-Mole: Adventures in Digital Archives

The Finnish National Library, like many other libraries, museums and archives around the world, is working to digitise some of their collections to make them more accessible and easily searchable. The trouble is that having a human being manually translate documents into a digital format would take a phenomenally long time, whereas computers and scanners don't have the capacity to evaluate whether what they have reproduced digitally makes sense. The vast digital collection therefore includes mistakes and anomalies, and fixing them can be time-consuming.

The library has joined forces with IT company Microtask to split the proofreading process into more managable smaller tasks, and turned to crowdsourcing to get the job done. They have developed the "thinking person's Angry Birds", two mole-themed games that gives the player single words from the collection to interpret: in one version the player has to identify whether the scanned word in an old typeface has been accurately reproduced digitally, and in another the player sees the original word and provides an accurate digitisation of it. You don't need to understand Finnish or Swedish to play, as you are basically making sure the letters in one font match the other. The games can be played here: the box on the right hand side tells you what material the words you're working on have been drawn from.

This is really very cool, and great news for all the procrastinators out there. Now you can play a quick little game and contribute to Humanities research at the same time!

(p.s. Thank you to Lise for drawing this to my attention!)

1 comment:

  1. That's also how Google's rekaptcha works as well! It transcribes a word and checks that you aren't a computer at the same time. So cool!