Monday, 8 August 2011

What the Dikkens?

Can you spot the typo? Good, then you can volunteer to help proofread Household Words (later called All Year Round), the weekly edited by Charles Dickens. In its long history it covered over 30,000 pages of crammed text, which apparently translates into approximately three billion words.

Though fairly accurate, I am probably one of the slowest proofreaders in the world. A 30,000-word text will probably take me the good part of 10-12 hours – i.e. an entire day. Therefore if I were to be assigned the task of proofreading all the HW/AYR issues, I'd be stuck in my job for the next 274 years or thereabouts – and maybe a bit longer, as I would probably need to take a holiday from time to time to rest my eyes.

It's an ambitious project, and a laudable one, but is it worth all the effort? What is the point of having the whole thing at your fingertips if people will only read bits of it anyway? Can't they do it on paper? Is it to make it searchable? Googlable? Twitterable?

Perhaps the promoters of this initiative are secretly hoping to sell millions of Household apps in 2012, the year of Dickens's 150th anniversary?

O brave new world!

PS: Who is going to do second proofs?

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