[PGCanada] Toronto Internet Archive kudos and Error Feedback

Jen Zed jenzed at gmail.com
Fri Apr 22 08:28:38 PDT 2005

Michael Hart forwarded an email to me regarding the Toronto Internet
Archive and the "addictive" quality of fast feedback loops. (Email
text included below.) Further to our conversation a couple of week
ago, maybe a process of fast-feedback error correction would look
something like this:

1. The HTML version on the PG Canada site could have "live" links to
the associated original page. (DP's jhutch's
http://www.pgdp.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=14719 HTML output from TEI
puts page numbers along the side of the text.)

2. When a reader spots an error, they click the page link. (They must
be logged in, and perhaps have to validate themselves via one of those
boxes that display obfuscated letters.)  If they validate, it brings
up an interface similar to the DP proofing interface (scan above,
(HTML) text below). They make the correction.

3. On save, the correction is written the the HTML file but styled in
a way to differentiate from the other text. A roll-over pop-up shows
the user who made the correction and the original text. Therefore,
corrections would be displayed to all readers, but it would be obvious
that their post-publication corrections.

4. Editors, working from a dynamic list of pages with "pending"
corrections, double-check the corrections, and, if they're okay, port
the changes to the source document, update the version history, and
re-generate the output versions and the archive file.

I like this idea because it tightens the relationship between readers
and proofers - it makes it easy for a reader to cross the line into
proofing. (And, of course, I like the error-correction aspect very


Email Excerpt:

> There are great differences between the Toronto branch of
> Internet Archive and the others. In the Dictionary of National
> Biography there are scans that are so faint they can not be
> read. Others have noted the complete jumble of the indexing
> system. Authors appear several times with erroneous spellings of
> their names; often under their given name rather than their
> family name.
> I have on the other hand found the Toronto books to be of very
> high quality.

This is my impression too.  There are some French dictionaries or
encyclopedias scanned in Toronto that look so nice I wish I spoke

I think that the early parts of the Internet Archive's "Million
Books Project" have one mistake in common with the early Project
Gutenberg, and that is too long feedback loops.  One thing we can
learn from Wikipedia (and PGDP) is that short (fast) feedback
loops are both addictive (so it draws many contributors) and
productive (so that it produces high quality contents).  You spot
an error, you fix it, the new version is published.  That is a
matter of seconds on Wikipedia.  For PG's e-texts, you have to
submit an error report by e-mail, and for IA's Million Books you
fill out an error report on the web, but then you can only hope
that some editor will attend to it. Any means to speed this
process up would be a great help.



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