Ancient libraries on-line Tuesday, Dec 25 2007 

Renaissance Magazine has an interesting article in the December, 2007 (#58) issue on how ancient books are being digitized for on-line libraries. Normally books are scanned, but the photo-like images take up lots of file space. If converted to text, the files are smaller. An additional advantage, for the researcher, is that they can then be searched.

However, converting old books to text is challenging because of the irregularity of the printing. An interesting solution makes use of the garbled letters test given to an estimated 60 million internet users a day. By incorporating snippets of a scanned book into the tests—and feeding the “translations” back to the digital library—a digital text version of the book is created.

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Things I didn’t know Wednesday, Dec 12 2007 

The visiting card was introduced to Europe in the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIV who was known as the Sun King. In the same century the practice began to take hold in English society. At around the same time, the card moved from its social beginnings to a business purpose with the introduction of the trade card.