Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thank you Google, thanks!

Presently Google is under attack in Germany because many people don't like to see their houses on street view. Public pressure was so high that on request Google agreed to pixel those protested pictures. Some house owners probably were ashamed and possibly feared fellow citizens becoming eventually aware when zooming their objects more closely on the web how badly front garden and faces were kept .

But here I have come not to bury Google but to praise them. I am actually preparing a talk about the Revolution in Baden in 1848/49 to be given here in Freiburg and was browsing the web for original information on Friedrich Hecker and Gustav Struve both among those who had actively fought in Baden for a German Republic as early as the middle of the 19th century. And there I suddenly found two books written by these very persons whilst they were in Switzerland, the country just across the border where initially they had fled to before they emigrated to the States. The two books published in Switzerland are:

Dr. Fr. Hecker: Die Erhebung des Volkes in Baden für die deutsche Republik im Frühjahr 1848, Druck von J. C. Schadelitz, Basel 1849 (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München) and

Gustav Struve: Geschichte der drei Volkserhebungen in Baden, Verlag von Jenni, Sohn, Bern 1849 (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München).

These publications are available on Google books in facsimile as PDF-files and as text in the epub-format. The originals scanned were taken from the Bavarian State Library in Munich. I enjoy reading their Gothic print on my iPad and admire as an extra bonus all the graffiti readers have left on those pages over the years. In GoodReader I can mark paragraphs for future reference but I take refuge to the processed text for copy and paste. It is not easy to recognize Gothic printed characters correctly but the people at Google did a marvelous job although you get the rough text without any corrections. Wikipedia has a similar project making old texts publicly available on the web called Wikisource. Here all texts must have been proofread three times before they are considered as accepted.

The web is full of treasures. Let us find and use them.

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