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Distributed Proofreaders Update for 27 August 2003

Last week we promised you a peek into the Project Release Queue for DP. For those readers just tuning into the column, the Queue is the waiting room for text projects which have been fully prepared for the proofreading process. When a text appears in the First Round of proofing it has been drawn from the pool of projects within the Queue awaiting release.

To reach a stage of proofing readiness a text requires a good deal of preparation work. A book must first be scanned and the scans must be processed with OCR software to produce the raw, first draft text of an e-book. Once this has been completed, the text and images must be processed and readied for the DP proofing system. When we look at the 1275 projects in the Q', it is hard to be unimpressed by the work already invested by dedicated Project Managers.

It is exciting to read through the manifest of projects awaiting release. In a very real way it is like seeing into the future. At some point ahead, all of these works will be available to the world through Project Gutenberg. One of the real marvels of the Distributed Proofreaders project is that it has provided a way for anyone with an Internet connection to be a participant in building that future.

There is another important benefit to Project Gutenberg that DP has taken to a new level. By distributing the work load and breaking tasks down into manageable components, DP has developed a realistic solution for converting large scale projects into digital form. The most obvious example of this presently within the Release Queue, are the number of Periodicals currently under development.

Distributed Proofreaders is presently seeing through a veritable renaissance of the 'golden age' of the periodical journals which occurred during the Nineteenth century. Thanks to the impressive labors of Juliet Sutherland, Don Kretz and DP's own Richy 42, 'Sixty Years' of the Scientific American journals are being made available at PG. Elsewhere Joshua Hutchinson and Jon Ingram have been working (without sleep it seems) to prepare for DP such periodicals as; Atlantic Monthly; The American Review; Punch; Blackwoods; The Strand; Continental Monthly and others. The content of the golden age journals is of both literary and historic value. Many of the great books we know today as classics were initially published in periodical form. It's delicious stuff to proof!

Another form of large scale project which is now possible to seriously consider because of DP are large book sets. Such works as the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Richard Hakluyt's vast series on the 'Principal Navigations of the English Nation' have been moving through the DP rounds for some time. A project that is about to begin its' own passage is the complete, multi volume edition of Sir George Frazer's Golden Bough which Suzanne Shell is seeing through.

Each week we will take a look into the Queue and see what's in store for proofers in the near future. For now, as we come to the end of August our attention turns to the landmark of DP having produced 2,000 completed books for Project Gutenberg.

This is a source of great pride for those at DP who have been a part of the effort. Expect some wild celebrations soon! We are already developing a special issue to celebrate this event, which will explore the history of the project so far. We will also spend some time with DP's founder Charles Franks and share a glimpse of his vision for the project's future.

For now...

Thierry Alberto

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