Tag Archives: brightsolid

Soapbox Saturday: The most annoying thing about the British Newspaper Archive

5 May

 I haven’t really spent much time on the British Newspaper Archive website since it launched last year, but I decided today that I would fork out some money for a few credits to spend over the couple of days. I had bookmarked a few pages over the last few months, waiting until the time was right to actually view the images.

So today for the first time I have started to discover some of the website’s annoyances. The poor quality of the OCR in places was a little annoying, most of the images I was looking at were of a reasonable quality, especially for someone used to searching newspapers on old and worn microfilms.

Some of the PDF downloads were not such good quality, in fact some were unreadable, and it is quite fortunate that the images of the Sussex Advertiser appear to be quite good quality. All in all the website is useable, not outstanding, but acceptable.

There is however one thing on the site which was soon getting on my nerves, that damn Twitter feed below the main header.

I am not a fan of Twitter, quite frankly I find it annoying to keep being encouraged to follow people and organisations on Twitter, almost as annoying as being told to “Like us on Facebook”.

There I would be reading a newspaper extract when another message would appear in the banner above, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it I couldn’t help but be distracted. The movement of the scrolling text was impossible to ignore.

But what’s that, there is a pause button at the right-hand end of the banner, that would do it. Sure enough it did, the annoying scrolling text stopped. I could focus again on the image I was interested in without fear of distraction.

However my relief was short-lived, the minute I moved to another screen, the scrolling text was back again. Please brightsolid if you must inflict highlights of your Twitter feed on me then please give me an option to turn it off and keep it off.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Which of my ancestors did I get my cynicism from?

20 May

You will no doubt already read about the partnership between the British Library and brightsolid to digitise their newspaper collection, so I am not going to bore you with the details again.

Obviously this is good news and a step in the right direction especially as the British Library seem to have had an aversion to sharing digital images with anyone other than academic libraries. However my cynical side needs to see some more details before I can get excited about it.

Are they going to digitise the newspapers I want? The mention that they “will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911” worries me. Perhaps it is very selfish of me but what if my ancestors didn’t come from those specific geographic areas.

What is it going to cost me to view these images? Will I be able to afford to browse a whole newspaper? Am I only going to be able to view a specific page brought up as search result?

Also consider the timescale. The headline figure of 40 million pages is due to be delivered over ten years, with a minimum of 4 million pages in the first two years. So please don’t hold your breath, it could be a long wait.

Please don’t get me wrong, it is good news, but I won’t be getting excited about it until I see what the results are like, how good the index is, how they are delivered and how much it costs. That’s enough for now, my glass is half empty,  I must go and fill it up!

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