February 15, 2014
On Wednesday, February 12, 2014, our Honors 391A class met in the Digital Humanities Lab in the Translation Center in the Herter Annex. Our mission for this class was to take old documents and transfer them onto the computer into our own digital copies. Upon entering this room, I didn’t have any idea about how we were going to approach this project.
I knew that there would be four groups of people performing different tasks in order to complete this project. These four groups include Scanning, OCR, Metadata, and Editing. The first group that we were introduced to was scanning. Two DSLR cameras are placed above a little shelf where the documents are placed and they take turns photographing the pages opposite them. We did have a few difficulties as one of the cameras was not working at first. Our troubleshooting consisted of just using one camera until the second was fixed.
The second group that we were introduced to was the OCR. The OCR group received the pictures from the scanning team and then distributed them to the computers that were in charge of the metadata. The OCR group consisted of two people on one computer. They would evenly distribute the pictures to the people working on the metadata to ensure everyone was doing something to help the group as a whole.
The third group that we were introduced to was the group that I was working with: metadata. I actually really enjoyed recording the metadata for each photo. There were four computers with people working on the same Google Doc Spreadsheet where we were filing out information about each photo we were given. We had to record information such as file name, what type of document it is, who the author is, and more. I can see how this is a vital step in the whole digitizing process. This is how documents can be found and placed together in other forms.
The fourth group in the digitizing process was the editing group. These people took the photos that the metadata group was finished with and began editing them. They sharpened, color enhanced, and stitched them together in the order that we scanned them. It is here that the project really began coming together.
I think that this whole process was very interesting. This is how professionals record ancient documents that they find that can help tell about ancient history. As a class, we demonstrated this process, and it was a very unique experience. I am definitely interested in learning more about digitizing and how it is used all over the world.