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You Are One of Google Books Contributor!

   A few days ago, I got a news from a friend of mine in Twitter that we can download e-books from Google Play Store for free! I was very excited about this, so without any further due I downloaded several epic novels such as "Les Miserables", "The Three Musketeers", "Wuthering Heights", "Frankenstein", and even "Romeo and Juliet". I also downloaded Google Play Book to read them and made my own e-library in my tablet.

My collection on Google Play Book
   Based on my own rough observation, I might conclude that the typical books that can be downloaded in Google Play are fairly old literature books which were published before the beginning of twenty-first century. Maybe, this can be a fair reason why those books are available for free.

   Then I am wondering and questioning myself: are there any other reasons why all of those amazing books are free? What if I say that you are one of contributor that bring those old books to become available for free in digital format?

   However, those free books reminded me of a TED talk by Luis von Ahn of Carnegie Mellon University in 2011 (you may see the video below) about his project, "Captcha" and "Re-Captcha". I assumed that all of you are fairly familiar with those terms. Yeah, you must have found it everywhere across the world wide webs, email services, blogs, internet forums or even while you add your Facebook friend or make a new Twitter account. 

   Basically, "Captcha" is a service which prevents bot activity by providing combination of words, letters, or numbers that must be correctly inputted by users to done some internet activities. This task cannot be done by computers yet, so it may prove that you are a human, not a bot. Thus it can secure the websites, reduce spams, preventing fraud, etc.

   Since the invention, "captcha" were used widely on the internet for the reason of internet security. But, most of internet users found this as an annoying service. For your information, roughly there are 200 million captchas typed everyday around the world and each captcha 'wasted' 10 seconds of your time, every time you typed it. So, essentially around 555 thousands hours of human time are 'wasted' every day because we typed those captchas.

   Based on those facts, Luis von Ahn as the inventor of "Captcha" started feeling bad about this and questioning himself 'is there any way we can use this effort for good of humanity?' Then he came up with a new project "Re-Captcha", as a bright and brilliant solution to bridge internet security problem and book digitization project!

   Like I mentioned before, this captcha cannot be solved by computers yet. So for those 10 seconds of our 'wasted' time to type captcha, basically we are doing something amazing that computer cannot yet do. The idea of "Re-Captcha" itself is the effort of you to type captcha can be used to help computers recognizing words or characters in the paper of old books, newspaper, or other documents which cannot be read or deciphered by computers due to their degraded ink and paper. The scanned images of those papers that contain text were split into words. And then these words are used as captcha images.

    So, every time you solve "Re-Captcha" words, you are not only proving that you are a human, but also contributing to digitize human knowledge. Not surprisingly, Google has acquired "Re-Captcha" from around four years ago to support their own project like Google News and Google Books. And now the answers for my questions above are clearly seen. Literally, without our consideration, we are all contributing to digitize those free books every time we type captcha. Currently, we may see that the projects seems quite well and bring something good for humanity, free books.

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