[bksvol-discuss] Re: bottlenecks in submitting and validating

  • From: "Sarah Van Oosterwijck" <curiousentity@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2005 22:21:54 -0500

E, you make some good points but I don't think that all the individual causes and solutions are all accurate. I think that the number one thing that would make books and their processing better would be everyone actually caring. It really makes only a little bit of difference what tools volunteers have and only slightly more what tools and features the bookshare system provides. If people don't care enough about the work they do they simply will not take advantage of the tools given them. Unfortunately just as morality can not be legislated; following the principals of good workmenship when scanning and validating can hardly be inforced.
Someone with only minimal equipment and software, but who really works at making their books nice before submitting is probably going to submit more quality books than someone with all the latest and greatest equipment and software, but with no compulsions to turn out good stuff. You can have the best there is, but if you don't properly hold down the book it will be the worst mess possible. You may find optimizing useful, but if you don't check the results you are more likely to have a mess than someone who just tries stuff until the result is good. Then someone who reads the book and actually edits every mistake they find will most likely do better than someone who exclusively relies on a spellcheck or even ranked spelling. There is also no substitute for experience, provided people actually learn from their experience. I think I optimize much quicker and just as effectively without Kurzweil's optimize feature, but of course that is because I have quite a bit of experience, have had the same scanner for 7 years, and OCR is good enough to do a great job with some margin for brightness settings. I also haven't had tuns of odd books. There are certainly situations where optimizing scans is a fantastic idea. If people have it available and find that they just don't know what to change to get better results then they should certainly try it. People who have the same problem but can't use optimizing should ask others what they might try.

I'm sorry if some people are offended at this, but I would rather scan books for people than have to see messes because they just can't put forth the effort or money to do a pretty good job. That doesn't mean those people are bad, only that they for one reason or another can't produce good scans. If you're in that situation just scan for yourself and submit what comes out nicely or ask for help with either settings or scanning the whole book for you. If the book is rare ask if someone would be willing to scan it without distroying it and then send it back to you.

I really really wish that the feature discribed of letting more than one person work on a book could be implemented. I have gotten book editing burnout on so many enormous non-fiction books and just couldn't bare to finish them. Of course I did a lot of work and who knows if someone else did the same things I had done to the book. Sometimes I would try because I knew that not everyone would be able to deal with the terminology as well as I could or maybe that noone else would care about the book, but I would edit a little and then fall asleep. I would get so tired of finding my place again and continuing, especially when I half heard some of the pages I didn't actually edit. Being able to pass on the book with comments would be fantastic. I usually don't even care about the credit in those cases because the work involved is worth so much more than 50 cents that 50 cents isn't really going to factor in to whether I take on the task or not. The books don't even have to be a big mess to take a lot of work. Sometimes I have just had to delete binding junk, get rid of missaligned information represented pictorially so as not to mislead the unwary reader, and fix some messes that a spellcheck couldn't handle very well, which includes number letter combinations that may or may not be correct. I also feel the need to fix up page numbering if the book is non-fiction and that can be a chore.

I have to say that I don't like the idea of making volunteers pay the $25 before they can start. It seems rather cruel to make someone pay for possible suffering. :-) You should get payed to work not the other way around. I certainly wouldn't have started to volunteer at the time I did if I would have had to pay. I had way more time than money then and I didn't know what I thought of the bookshare system yet. I did take a few books that I didn't end up validating, but mostly I did complete work on what I took, but that is because I thought that was the right thing to do and didn't mind it anyway. I think it wouldn't be unreasonable for admins to write to people who repeatedly download and don't complete validation to ask them exactly why they are doing it, and to worn them that such behavior is not approved of. they could also suggest that the person seak out some assistance if they are having trouble validating. that would serve two purposes at once both worning abusers and offering help to the confused.

Sarah Van Oosterwijck
Assistive Technology Trainer

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