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Yeah, found this out yesterday…
Every time you use a reCAPTCHA you are essentially transcribing Google Street Map addresses so they don’t have to. It’s kinda weird to be that I’m being used to transcribe books and invasive Street View to help the world, but I look at the tradeoff. I guess it’s mankind’s way of keeping mankind safe whilst improving mankind…? Or rather, protecting mankind from spam, viruses, bots, and worms…ew! In exchange for aforementioned electronic protection, mankind shall doeth some labour (had to say that in King James English for some reason).
Of note, you have the opportunity to learn another language in exchange for your transcription services through “DuoLingo” if you choose to further your skills (notes below).
Side note – CAPTCHAs are hell on the blind and dyslexic. Also, they can still be hacked.
Google Now Using ReCAPTCHA To Decode Street View Addresses – (2012) – “Google confirmed it’s currently running an experiment that involves using its reCAPTCHA spam-fighting system to improve data in Google Maps by having users identify things like street names and business addresses.”
Sure, this is ‘old news’ by this point, but I wanted to paste some info from the official CAPTCHA website:
CAPTCHA: Telling Humans and Computers Apart Automatically
A CAPTCHA is a program that protects websites against bots by generating and grading tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot. For example, humans can read distorted text as the one shown below, but current computer programs can’t:
The term CAPTCHA (for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) was coined in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas Hopper and John Langford of Carnegie Mellon University.
About 200 million CAPTCHAs are solved by humans around the world every day. In each case, roughly ten seconds of human time are being spent. Individually, that’s not a lot of time, but in aggregate these little puzzles consume more than 150,000 hours of work each day. What if we could make positive use of this human effort? reCAPTCHA does exactly that by channeling the effort spent solving CAPTCHAs online into “reading” books.
To archive human knowledge and to make information more accessible to the world, multiple projects are currently digitizing physical books that were written before the computer age. The book pages are being photographically scanned, and then transformed into text using “Optical Character Recognition” (OCR). The transformation into text is useful because scanning a book produces images, which are difficult to store on small devices, expensive to download, and cannot be searched. The problem is that OCR is not perfect.
reCAPTCHA improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher. More specifically, each word that cannot be read correctly by OCR is placed on an image and used as a CAPTCHA. This is possible because most OCR programs alert you when a word cannot be read correctly.
Our new site, duolingo.com offers a way for you to learn languages 100% free while helping to translate the Web.
I took it just in case – I sometimes have trouble discerning between blues and blacks, but it seems that I’m OK.
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Yeah, I said it – these things are RACIST!!!!
I did a little research on some of my favorite sweet treats, and whoa, did I find some interesting factoids – it’s the dark side, literally, of some of the world’s most beloved candy. How can such sweet be coupled with such bitter?
Backstory: some of the delicious chocolate-covered marshmallow treats you grew up eating have terribly racist names in some parts of the world. The food isn’t racist, of course, but their original names have caused controversy for as long as they’ve been around. WHAT’S THE DEAL?!
A great place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate-coated_marshmallow_treats. While I try to never quote Wikipedia, I think it’s a good start.
“Chocolate-coated marshmallow treats are produced in different variations around the world, with several countries claiming to have invented it or hailing it as their “national confection”. The first chocolate-coated marshmallow treat was created in the early 1800s in Denmark.” 
OK, Denmark, let’s start with you. Let’s see how you depict your “original creation” of a negerkys (Negro kiss):
Thanks for the marketing photo, internet person – glad someone is keeping up with this kind of thing. It’s noted that the Elviraminde company no longer uses the name “Negro kisses” to market them, but they did until the early 2000s.
Anyhoo, other countries gave their chocolate-covered marshmallow confections names that referred to Africans:
- Southern Germany + German speaking Switzerland = Mohrenköpfe (Moor’s heads)
- Finland = Neekerinsuukot (Negerkyss), derived from German. Discontinued use in 2001.
- The Netherlands = Negerzoenen (“Negro kisses”)
- Germany = Negerkuss
- Flanders = “Niggerinnetetten” (“Female Negro’s Tits”)
- Colombia = Beso De Negra (Black Woman’s Kiss)
- Palestine = “Cushi” כושי, “negro”, but not used in decades
It’s not that referring to anyone of African origins is racist – it’s HOW the reference is used. Yikes on some of the advertising – truly degrading and insensitive. However, the term “negro” is, in several languages, the word “black”, which refers to the color, not anything racial. In America, it’s pejoratively used as a racial slur these days, so most Americans now try to avoid it. Historically, it’s been used positively and negatively, so it depends on the context entirely…but lately, it’s not been favorable to use. So, let’s not. In other parts of the world, though, the connotation isn’t necessarily racist, nor meant to be condescending in any way – and yet, some of the marketing appears racially insensitive, so much so that most of it is no longer used today. So, does that mean other countries were wrong to use those ads to begin with, or is it that we NOW see them as racist, over time? Good question.
Side note: America has “Moon Pies” and Mallomars – not entirely similar, but I’d venture a guess neither were associated with racism. I know – seems ironic, but there you are. And basically, Moon Pies are portably convenient s’mores. You’re welcome.
Here’s a video of Moon Pie manufacturing in Chattanooga, Tennessee:
I don’t see a WordPress shareable link, so I’ll post an excerpt from Colossal:
“…Printed in the late 16th century this small book from the National Library of Sweden is an example of sixfold dos-à-dos binding, where six books are conjoined into a single publication but can be read individually with the help of six perfectly placed clasps. This particular book was printed in Germany and like almost all books at the time is a religious devotional text.”
Special thanks to Erik Kwakkel for the original story.
Pic: Stockholm, Royal Library. See the full image gallery here.