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Proofreading For A Cause!

By Jennifer Smith

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations—such is a pleasure beyond compare.
Kenko Yoshida

The Wisdom of the Ages

Without the invention of writing, and further, without the enclosure of the leaves in covers to gather and protect them, the world would be a poorer place mathematically, scientifically, culturally, philosophically, and pretty much any other '–ally' you care to name. Books hold the accumulated wisdom of the ages: new ideas, solid scientific learning, and social context of times gone by.

Outliving Their Authors

How else can you hear directly from people long dead—in their own words, without intermediaries? Einstein has gone to his grave, but you can read "Investigations on the Theory of Brownian Movement” any time you care to. Jane Austen is dust, but you can read her witty, mannered novels and absorb a taste of what it was like to live in her time.

Deserving of Wider Readership

But many other past publications are lost or live only in dusty libraries or musty old bookshops. If you are so fortunate as to find a copy at all, it may be the only copy you will ever find. Books that deserve wider readership—incorporating the culture, mores, and manners of bygone years without which history is merely dates—are weeded from libraries, sent for recycling, lost, or destroyed.

Project Gutenberg

You can help rescue this old content and make it accessible to people around the world. Join Distributed Proofreaders in supporting Project Gutenberg . Founded in 1971, Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize public domain works and to make them freely available in e-book form. Project Gutenberg always generates a plain text file, plus, as available, EPUB (Nook standard), Kindle file standard, Plucker, and HTML. Volunteer proofreaders ensure quality of the finished product, which is vastly superior to the OCRs from the politically fraught Google Books project.

Distributed Proofreaders

Distributed Proofreaders is pretty much the perfect volunteer opportunity for anyone who can read and type. This Internet-based organization makes it ridiculously easy to log in, anytime, anywhere, and proofread a page or two at a time. There is no commitment or timetable to meet: when you have time, log in and help for a few minutes. It’s entirely painless, and your contribution directly assists in preserving old books. Thousands of volunteers are working on page proofs at any given time from anywhere around the world. Distributed Proofreaders has released 20,000 e-texts to Project Gutenberg as of April 2011.

Consider joining Distributed Proofreaders today and support its mission of “preserving the literary history of the world in a freely available form for everyone to use.”

Page last modified on Friday, September 02, 2011 11:40:31am EDT
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