[LINK] Online Word Games Help Restore Finland’s Archive

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Wed Feb 23 09:16:59 AEDT 2011

Online Word Games Help Restore Finland’s Archives
Tristan Parker
February 21st, 2011

Online gaming techniques are being used by a project in Finland to 
collate and digitise huge volumes of historical documents from the 
country’s national archives.

Launched by the National Library of Finland, the first phase of the 
project, named ‘Digitalkoot’ – which means ‘digital volunteers’ – 
involves getting members of the public to manually correct mistakes in 
digital versions of old newspaper pages.

The errors stem from use of an optical character recognition system 
which automates the digitising of printed text, but in doing so has made 
an estimated 2% of errors within a four million page database. These 
errors are more than just cosmetic, as they make catalogue searches more 

The mistakes are corrected by people playing two online word-matching 
games ( http://bit.ly/gaJOJF ) developed by the Finnish company 
Microtask ( http://www.microtask.com ), a specialist in distributing 
digital workloads.

Kai Ekholm, Director of the National Library of Finland, told 
E-Government Bulletin that Digitalkoot is loosely based a project by The 
National Library of Australia, which is publishing historic newspaper 
content online ( http://bit.ly/hbCZPs ) as part of a program to collect 
and preserve all the country’s newspapers.

The project’s first stage will allow Finnish citizens of all ages to 
help preserve culturally significant documents, said Ekholm. “In public 
speech we talk so much of the age pyramid, and this is a nice example of 
how to turn the discussion to a positive one. We now have one of the 
healthiest and most educated senior sectors that want to help us, not 
forgetting the [younger] gamers.”

The next stage of the project will use a more advanced, work-oriented 
“pro-interface” method, said Ekholm, for an audience that is “willing to 
skip the gaming and willing to work instead.” The model will also be 
introduced to the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), 
giving other European libraries the chance to use the project software, 
possibly released as an open source tool, he said.

NOTE: Article originally published in E-Government Bulletin issue 329.



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
email:	 brd at iimetro.com.au
website: www.drbrd.com

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