Thursday, September 07, 2006

Google News Archive- we need to find more time to play with this stuff

I think Google must believe that I have either too much spare time or that my career endeavours are not worthy. Why? Well, they keep introducing these new services whose only purpose must be to distract us from reality and suck us into endless wild goose chases after meaningless factoids. From Google, to Google Earth to Google Desktop... and now Google News Archive Search. What is Google News Archive Search?

Someone has been busy scanning archives of newspapers and running them past Optical Character Recognition (OCR) before the usual Google formula of indexing for search. This means that I can search on my home town, Ilkley, and pull up an article from the Saturday 18th April 1891 edition of the Fitchburg Daily Sentinel and see that the nearby Bolton Abbey was a place that "few Americans have seen because of its remoteness"; contemporary reports about the arrival and life of Rev Dr Robert Collyer, the famous Unitarian minister and close friend of Andrew Carnegie; and in the Liverpool Courier of 26th Jan 1897 about the death of two boys, Waterhouse and Berridge, on a stretch of the river that I used to play in. Over a hundred years ago! Some of the OCR is dodgy, but if you have patience to interpret the text, it's fascinating.

This must be a rich source for historians and I look forward to seeing if it can make a contribution to my genealogy endeavours. The pay-per-view and subscription results are a pain for a tight-wad like me though.

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