Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Who on earth is Katrina Grinsley?

And where on earth?

And should I perhaps seek her out and propose to her??

Sorry, rambling there.

I have been visiting the site of my new blog-friend JES quite a bit recently. And he has a particularly sophisticated word-verification anti-spam gizmo on his comment form called ReCaptcha. This gizmo gives you not just a single nonsense word to fill in to try to convince Mr S's website that you are not a spambot, but a pair of words (or sometimes a word and a number). And, of late, it has been throwing up such oddly memorable and seemingly significant combinations that I am beginning to develop a paranoia that this isn't the work of a mere randomising program at all, but that the dastardly Mr S is controlling the display directly himself, slyly choosing resonant phrases that will tease and torment his poor readers.

I mean, where else can such a haunting North Country femme fatale as Ms Grinsley have sprung from?? The ReCaptcha device (at least, back in the days when it was being apparently random) has very seldom offered up a proper name. In fact, it seldom produces even one half of its word pair with an initial capital, let alone both of them.

So, it was certainly a bizarre statistical freak to be confronted with Katrina Grinsley.

Either that, or Mr S is matchmaking for me??


Heiney said...

I think I read that the ReCaptcha system uses a known word plus an unknown word from a poor scan. It's an effort to scan and digitize text and the people responsible are getting average schmoes like us to do the work.

I think it's organized though

So, when books or other text are scanned and the computer can't recognize a word, that word is then flagged. The word will then be used in the ReCaptcha system. The unknown word will be paired with a known word. If you get the known word correct, the computer assumes that you're a real person. Therefore, when the unknown word is entered, it's likely to be correctly read by you, the human.

Then again I could be wrong and THEY are out to get you.

JES said...

It's those damned monkeys at their keyboards.

We've been trying to keep them focused on writing the plays and sonnets Shakespeare would have written if he'd just lived a bit longer, and I think there's even an essay by him for the NY Review of Books somewhere in their stack of priorities. In the meantime, well, they've got to eat, haven't they? So the stuff they crank out which is unsuitable for WS goes out over the wire as ReCaptcha word pairs. This brings in a tidy day-to-day income.

Trouble is, monkeys will be monkeys, after all. When Bobo came up with "Katrina Grinsley" you should have seen the place -- much simian hooting and backslapping, and Bobo put a star next to his own name. You were just an innocent bystander caught up in the moment.

The project across the hall is using chimps with Tommy guns in an attempt to recreate 1929's St. Valentine's Day Massacre. As you can imagine, that project's innocent bystanders fare much worse. So on balance, you should probably consider mere paranoia an acceptable consequence.

Froog said...

There is nothing "mere" about my paranoia, JES. Wider than oceans, and more deep.

Thanks for the more sane and plausible discussion of how ReCaptcha operates, Heiney. Are you a PR flunkie for the service?

However, I think I am more convinced by JES's vision of a universe helmed by an infinite number of monkeys.