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It's also a question of volume. A 1% error rate that needs human cleanup is
not a big deal when you only see 100 docs per day, but it mounts up when
there a million.
Analogy: A friend is slowly scanning and turning into PDF files all the
reprints and preprints (in planetary science) that he's collected since the
late 1960's. He runs the scanner more or less continuously while at home,
and takes the files produced on his laptop when he travels, and does a sort
of desultory fixup of the OCR (since he has the page images as well) as
lulling airplane activity. Serious fixup occurs when he actually has to
consult the paper for details.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Prescod" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2002 10:35 AM
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Web Design Principles (was Re: [xml-dev] Generality
> "Simon St.Laurent" wrote:
> > Humans processing faxed or mailed documents are quite capable of
> > recognizing different fields in forms even when they arrive on different
> > stationery or different languages, and can even pick up the phone and
> > make an inquiry when there is a problem.
> Sure. But for most companies the point of computerizing is to avoid this
> > I've hoped for a while that XML's flexibility might lead to the
> > development of approaches which balance or even combine human and
> > computer processing of information, combining humans' extremely flexible
> > interventions (aka "teaching") with computers' highly efficient
> > performance of repetitive tasks.
> It does, if you look at it in a particular way. Humans "teach" computers
> to recognize new XML structures by writing transformations from the new
> structures to the old ones. There are many big businesses that this can
> become a mainstream activity through "visual mappers".
> > I can't say I've seen this notion taking hold on any large scale, though
> > every now and then I hear of encouraging bits. I don't believe this
> > problem is technical, however. It seems harshly cultural. Programmers
> > are deeply loathe to admit that users might have a greater role than
> > use, and that regular human intervention in the very logic of a data
> > structure might have advantages rather than disadvantages.
> Businesses hire programmers to automate things. Most human beings do not
> want to be involved with any process that can be done by a computer. So
> the businesses, the users, and the programmers all consider the system a
> failure if there is a requirement to bring in a human being to clean up
> a computer's mess.
> Having computers and humans working together is great. But you seem to
> propose that users should be required to handle the exceptional cases
> that computers handle poorly. I'd suggest instead that the users would
> rather work with programmers (or visual mapping tools) to automate away
> those exceptional cases so that they can be freed up to do creative