Friday, August 14, 2009

The 'Quiet Deluxe' in the Digital Age

So, I have been playing with my new toy, the Royal 'Quiet Deluxe'. Although it is hardly quiet when compared, say, with the sound of this digital keyboard, it is certainly most 'Deluxe'.

It has the feel of an old world machine, the kind that the current 'Steampunk' DIY fashionistas like to falsely re-create. Unlike the Steampunker stuff, though, everything on this baby actually works and is there for a reason. All the gears and levers and knobs have a purpose, which I actually remembered when I sat down in front of it for the first time, a sort of muscle memory that like the proverbial riding a bike, is never forgotten.

Also set aside in my memory but not forgotten was the sensation of typing on a manual typewriter. Like a dance, it takes a certain rhythm, cadence, speed. Too fast and the key jam. Too slow and it becomes laborious. But when the thoughts are flowing and the keys are struck in a steady beat, the page leaps to life. Before you know it, I have a completed page rolling up and out of the machine.

Ah, but what to do with that page?

One of the things that I love the digital age is the fact that once words are captured in the computer, I can reuse them in any way I like. To me, words on paper seem trapped; bound in three dimensions so tightly that it requires another effort just to release them. I really don't like transcribing or even re-typing my work. It seems like such a waste of time that I could spend writing new things.

So, my first thought on getting the Quiet Deluxe--other than delight, which is only exceeded (in the form of a gift received) by the BB gun I got when I was seven--was how to overcome the gap between the words I longed to hammer out on the page and the words I longed to shape and reuse. In other words, how to free them from the ink on the page.

A good friend, who is very technically savvy--ok geeky--suggested that I try Optical Character Recognition software. This involves a couple of steps. First, the typed page is scanned, then saved as a file. The OCR software then 'reads' the machine print (type) and 'renders' it as text which you can then save as a file. After that, I can open up the file and post it to my blog or incorporate it in my novel, for example.

This simple process has a simple flaw. The 'rendered' text is not always, shall we say, accurate.

Below is a picture of the scanned page:


And here is how that got 'rendered':

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Only the last line got 'rendered' correctly, literally as well as figuratively.

1 comment:

d2 said...

Ah, good ol' OCR software! I remember it, if not with fondness, then a certain leftover resignation and futility.

I had to scan documents and run Adobe's OCR software on them - many, many of them. And then go through them word by word to correct the mangled text. Sometimes, it was faster just to re-type the blasted things... Talk about the Dept. of Redundancy Dept.