The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0123  Friday, 21 January 2005

From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 18:33:59 -0000
Subject: 16.0110 Records of Early English Drama (REED) Online
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0110 Records of Early English Drama (REED) Online

Al Magary has does a great service in bringing to our attention the free
digitizations of the REED volumes.  If an RSS (syndication) feed is what
drew his attention to this quiet development (as he calls it), I retract
the scepticism of my previous post.

Al compares the DejaVu plugin (and its associated file format) to Adobe
Acrobat, which is fair. (Do we really want yet another proprietary
standard?) But he doesn't mention a surprising feature of the DejaVu
images: buried unseen within the images is a layer of selectable (and
hence copy-and-pasteable) and indeed searchable etext.

Thus, although one appears to have only the images of each page, the
plug-in allows a textual search (say, "Queen"), which will take one
straight to the image for the page on which that word occurs. This makes
the separate etexts redundant unless one wants to do some special
textual analysis with it.

I'd still prefer open-standard images, and incredibly the Internet
Archive is offering those too. However, even zipped up these come out at
a couple of gigabytes per book, which will take half an hour to arrive
over a 10Mbps connection, or 5 hours over the fastest broadband or cable
connection. (I wonder how many people remember that 10Mbps = 1MBps.)
That DejaVu gets 2000MB of already-compressed raw image data down to,
typically, 10MB suggests that the company's claim to have develop an
wholly new and superior compression method is true.

Gabriel Egan

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