Thinking about History: a typewriter tangent.

My recent reading and editing articles on TROVE (see previous post) with intatters has lead to interesting discussion both online and in real life.

I have been thinking about old fashioned typewriters (pre 1970 as far as I can tell) and the fact they didn’t have a number ‘1’ on the keyboard. This led to the typists convention of using a lower case L to be a 1 in all typed media. I also have a feeling that the capital I was not present, and a lower case L was used for this letter too. Last week I ‘found’ one of these typewriters, circa 1950, in an office of a colleague.

So this is interesting, mostly because of the ‘unforseen’ problems this is causing now. While not catastrophic, the presence of a lowercase L for OCR ( Optical Character Recognition) software does pose a problem, especially in tatting patterns on TROVE. In a pattern it could mean a ‘1’ or actually be an ‘l’ depending on the context of the pattern. This is where our ‘Human Character Recognition’ (HCR?) is needed, along with our understanding of how tatting patterns were written then. For the record, the OCR software has done a brilliant job, the only exception being really blurred scanned text, and sometimes blurred text has me scratching my head also LOL!

Another side line is that those annoying boxes that pop up for ‘security’ when you try to post a comment on a google blog, are actually letters generated by OCR software. By getting lots of people to type in the letters they see, it helps the OCR software to improve it’s recognition (That is the less complex explanation…WH can give a much more in depth spiel!).

A final side line is this ‘eye candy’ gingerbread construction, I found via Facebook. Gingerbread Typewriter « Cakehead Loves Evil.  It looks really yummy, and very clever.

So there are some of my thoughts this week, about typewriters, but prompted by tatting!

Happy Tatting

Fiona T

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December 17, 2011 · 2:31 pm

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