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Distributed Proofreaders Update for 8 October 2003

With one week behind us, October has so far lived up to it's initial expectations of dynamic and productive activity. September made several significant notations in the historic logs of DP, this month appears to be opening up a whole new ledger. If you have been away from the site for the past week, you are missing out. Don't despair, there a few weeks to go yet, and things are just getting warmed up. In the time between I will try to bring you up to date.

Two new initiatives began at DP this month, which were mentioned in the previous column. The first of these was a dedication of October as 'Post Processing Month.' Yes, the groaning was loud and diverse at the initial announcement. That was to be expected. The new and untried is always met with resistance at the start. To be fair, the questions were not without foundation. First of all, how do you set a fixed goal for a process where every element is unique. A short novel requires a completely different approach in Post than a collection of poetry with supplementary notations. Different approaches are also required for a textbook or an issue of periodical. On the whole, the details were not as important as how we approached the objective itself. What mattered was setting out a path and committing to it's destination. The collective mind of DP has always been good at figuring out challenges as they arise. The current Post processing efforts are reminding us of this truth once again.

The aim at the beginning of October, was to complete the first stage of the Post process for 300 texts. That is far beyond figures achieved in any month to date. At the end of seven days, 70 texts have completed the Post stage and moved on to DP's final stage of Verification. As this is a 31 day month, that places us slightly ahead of schedule. To see how this follows on as we move through the month, watch this space! Be sure we will keep you current on the progress and discoveries of this endeavor. Just one note, in case anyone is wondering if such a fixed push effects the quality of a final text. It is the standing policy at DP, whether there is an objective to meet or not, that a Post processor has to meet the clear standards required of a finished text. One of the most obvious initial benefits in this new effort is the broad range of support among those working in all areas of Post. This collaboration is enhancing the quality as well as speed of the completed texts.

The second new initiative is the Author's Birthday celebrations. DP now salutes an author on the day they were born by giving a high priority to any works which are within the production process. While the first several days of the month were lean on notable birthdays, a buzz of activity surrounded several writers whose date of birth falls in the later weeks of the month. Our first celebration was yesterday for the occasion of James Whitcomb Riley's birthday. It proved a fine commemoration as two projects were prepared on time, specifically for the day, and were proofed through both rounds by the start of today.

The celebrations continue tomorrow with a work by Ralph Waldo Trine and on Friday it's a double celebration for Antoine de Bertin and William Minto. All three authors will be appearing in Project Gutenberg for the first time when these texts are completed. The newsletter will continue to spotlight birthday celebrations within each week. If you would like to participate in a party or two watch for continually updated posts in the DP forums, check in General and Content Providers. If you are think that you might have a book by an October author, and would be interested in preparing it or lending it to someone to prepare, you will find an ever evolving manifest of authors and dates.

One final note regarding the authors' birthdays; this focused effort is not limited solely to proofing. If you have a project by a birthday author at any stage of development, post a note about this in one of the forum threads. The intention of this initiative is to bring together a united, focused effort which will help bring an author's work closer to being available on the PG shelves. Whatever your project needs, let others know! If you have an creative idea, post it to the forum! This feature is here to stay and will be open for innovation as it grows and defines itself.

What else is exciting and hot so far this month? Well ... page counts, of course! They just won't slow down. While the focus has been on Post Production, proofing efforts have not been diminished. In fact, they are record breaking. For the first time, since the weather bureau has been keeping records, every day of the month so far has met and surpassed the daily pages proofed objective. Yesterday closed out the first week impressively as the 4th most productive proofing day of 2003. It would seem that the momentum of September is increasing, rather than diminishing. Let's give it another week, and then we can talk about how to bottle whatever they're drinking over in the Rounds.

Not bad for a first week, aye! Guess what? I have saved the best for last. Yes, there's more. Or haven't you heard?... There's a new and improved Distributed Proofreaders in town. It's understandable if you didn't notice, but the credit for that belongs solely to the Coding Crew at DP. Most site upgrades are performed in the quiet little corners of an early Sunday morning. But for these guys ... nothing but the middle of a Friday evening for the roll out of the latest version of DP. Yet were it not for a few wrinkles here and there and an extra log-in or two, you would not have known you had been transported to a new era in proofreading.

There's still some tweaking to work out in little places. The important thing is, what needs to work, the essentials that keep DP running smooth, never missed a beat. The source code is one of the more transparent processes at the site. Those of us who work on the projects each day tend to think about the code only when it does something we don't find amusing. It's like driving a car; unless we have an interest in mechanics, we don't really care what goes on 'under the hood' as long as we get to where we want to go. We may not see it working well, we may not really understand how and why it does, but we're always happy for a smooth ride.

The impressive achievements of this week would not have been possible without a equally impressive job performed by everyone on the coding side over these past few months. It's the collaboration of all the craft-crews at DP that produces the bountiful output we see pouring forth steadily towards PG. We are Distributed, but we are united. The results of our collaboration prove the value of that union for lasting good in this world.

I can't vouch for everyone else, but expressing candidly, I find myself drawn back to DP time and again, as much for the company found there as for the work we are doing.

Until next week, when the current events may allow us some room to return to our regular path of exploration. . .

All the best to each of you!

For now...

Thierry Alberto

Links to Articles

19 October 2004
18 February 2004
11 February 2004
4 February 2004
14 January 2004
17 December 2003
3 December 2003
19 November 2003
12 November 2003
5 November 2003
29 October 2003
22 October 2003
15 October 2003
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1 October 2003
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3 September 2003
27 August 2003
20 August 2003