I digitize books on the side (and so do you)

Have you heard of ReCaptcha? I just learned of it and I find this so fascinating. You know those letters that you have to type to send a friend a New York Times article or comment on a blog in order to prevent spam? Oftentimes, those words you have to enter are part of a text that you’re helping to digitize; word by word, the book or newspaper (that can’t be read by computer scan) is re-keyed. What do you think? Do you feel used? The idea is that it only takes each of us a few seconds to recognize and key in a word, but with about 200 million words or “captchas” being keyed a day, that translates to hundreds of thousands of hours of labor that can be repurposed for preservation. I think it raises all kinds of interesting questions. I love the idea that we’re all participating in what ostensibly is a noble cause, and yet what are we preserving? Who are we preserving it for?
I’m not sure what I think, except that it’s brilliant.

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