Archive | January 30, 2014

Did You Know You Were Translating Books and Newspapers?

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:

CAPTCHA example

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.

Example of OCR errorsreCAPTCHA 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.

New: Learn Spanish, German or French for free while translating the Web!

Our new site, offers a way for you to learn languages 100% free while helping to translate the Web.

Color Blindness Test by EnChroma

I took it just in case – I sometimes have trouble discerning between blues and blacks, but it seems that I’m OK.

Color Blindness Test by EnChroma.