You know how leaving comments on people’s blogs sometimes involves having to figure out some squiggly alphabets that are hard to read? Well, I just learned that some of these are linked to reCAPTCHA, a programme that digitises old scanned texts by having humans solve these ‘puzzles’ around the world, all the time. It’s pretty interesting and if you go to the site, you can actually help digitise scanned words. (After 20 ‘successes’, I also realised it’s easy to get addicted to reCAPTCHAing.) Anyway, never once did it cross my mind that all those annoying validation processes potentially have a noble cause.
Two other pretty good reads:
The Worst Jobs in Science 2007 (from Popular Science) – think ‘Whale-Feces Researcher’ or ‘Elephant Vasectomist’
The Formula (from New Yorker) – what if we built a machine to predict hit movies?