Monday, November 16, 2009

reCaptcha - a genius idea

In general, those words you have to type in to prove you are human before leaving a comment on a blog or e-mailing a nytimes story tend to be annoying because it often takes me several times to get it right. That is why I appreciate the genius of the reCaptcha used now at the NY Times, since they use words from actual scanned documents, that are generally pretty easy for humans to read, but are demonstrably hard for computers since they have failed the standard computer OCR (optical character recognition) programs. The added genius is that not only are these relatively easy to read, they also help collect data for the designers of OCR programs, to make OCR programs better in the future, so you're actually doing useful work by deciphering those letters.

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