Page 6 Disaster

February 22, 1906

For this class, I have been assigned the week of February 19, 1906. All in all, I have to say this has been one of absolute favorite classes. Not only have I learned to code and become what I like to call “tech savvy” but I am learning the everyday lives of individuals from not only the United Kingdom but from pretty much anywhere they associate with. When you think about it we are given Monday through Saturday editions of the newspaper to complete; that is a ton of work!

In every day’s edition, the page six usually consists of financial tables. This is by far the worse part of the “coding” aspect of the class. I mean, the class itself is very time consuming and tedious but using OCR really does help to speed the process up, but of course you cannot run financial tables through OCR. Not once, have I had an easy time just knocking out the page sixes. You might be thinking right now “I wonder what is so bad about the financial tables? You’re given the template, therefore all you need to do is change the actual information within it.” Well, you have successfully answered the question; building the template is the easy part, actually filling in the tables are the difficult part. Actually sitting down and attempting to read what the newspaper actually says the problematic part. Either the letters or numbers are so small that you cannot read it or (in most cases) the scans are extremely blurry in parts of the page. Majority of the time, even if I take smaller section scans of each page to get a clearer reading, it is still does not help. What I read as a three are sometimes an eight, or the “E” is actually a “D” or “B”. The comparison happen for almost every letter and number, it is just really hard to decipher. Although, I have to say, as frustrating as the page sixes are… typing the last text for that page, sitting back and say “ah yes! Finally I finished!” It’s an extremely rewarding feeling and then I can actually look at the information I wrote down and compare it to other issues and today’s information such as the stocks and shares portion.

I find it quite interesting that when reading reviews of the Cisdem OCR system, on the following websites listed below, everyone seems to praise the system. I mean the system is indeed great, but I come across a lot of errors that still need to be fixed after running it through the OCR. I guess I must be doing something then, but I will definitely be looking into this!

And maybe I am just very naïve, and have not really taken the time to really think about each of the financial tables’ importance, but I just do not see why the public, whether the person is reading the paper in Great Britain or in Egypt, need to see a balance sheet for Egyptian investments. When you really think about it, that information can only be useful to someone who understands business, but not everyone reading the paper is “business savy.”

Will Hanley
Associate Professor of History

I study the legal history of the Middle East and teach at Florida State University.