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Larspeart

An announcement in the world of research tools.

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(I honestly had no idea which section would be best to put it in- I'm no scientist, but this is all the result of some real, we think, breakthroughs we've made in technology. There is no 'Absinthe History' section, and while I pondered "in Art", and a couple others, I thought here might be good.)

 

So, as many of you know, I work for a company that specializes (among other things) in the electronic digitization and full-text search of historic documents- massive collections of them, and from the world's Great Libraries (emphasis not my own)- The BL, Bodleian, LoC, UK/US National Archives, Huntington, Corvey, Harvard, Yale, Newbury, etc. Many, as an example, of the historic documents on the main WS society page are the result of what all, well... we do.

 

So, this Spring, we're announcing a breakthrough- A new type of platform and technology that, even in the industry for over a decade, 18 months ago, I didn't believe would exist in another 15 years. We hope to create a research 'environment', and a scholarly world that will allow for knowledge-sharing, and research sharing unseen yet. Also, we've hit on a few technologies that haven't existed yet, but that we've been trying for over the past decade, hard.

 

Among them:

 

Manuscript OCR capture- in short, we are starting to be able to read, electronically, historical manuscripts. Before, we've been limited to text only (newspapers, books, periodicals), but that has left SO, SO much out of the story of history. We've getting deeper than we believe anyone before.

 

Graphical and visual representations of a historic event, topic, theme, author, publication- The ability to search in a much more 'visual' manner, and to create an image-based look at something (Absinthe's 'rise and fall' for instance- one I am working on now, in fact).

 

Creating, through metadata, personalized subject, citation, and annotation tags, a personalized user experience within the architecture, allowing you to choose to weed out, or leave in, related/pertinent content. IOW, if you want a Google-sized search field, you got it. If you want to only explore certain themes, topics, genre, authors- you can do that too.

 

Downloadable 'raw/dirty' OCR- The end user sees what (until now) we, the designers could see. We'll be the first to truly "show our hand", so to speak in the raw data.

 

And more!

 

It's called the Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO is what our industry- university libraries/scholars- are calling it). The name is a slight misnomer- We're dealing in the LONG 19th Century. Roughly 1789-1914, but we blur those lines to go a little in both directions a bit as well.

 

So, why post that to a booze forum? Well, in addition to it what we've already been able to do in terms of tracking the earliest origins of absinthe, bans, ingredients, newspaper accounts, etc... imagine being able to search early handwritten recipes? Confiscated reports, records, and equipment catalogues from early creators? From those working during the final months/days before bans went into place? Ledgers, sales receipts, and shipping reports out of major distilleries... and mayhaps where those may have been sent?

 

(We think) The sky is the limit. I hope to quietly share access to trusted folks on here, as we get closer to final launch.

 

Fingers crossed, wish us luck, and (I hope) I/we can make some real absinthe in-roads in the next year or so.

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Thanks!

 

I just posted (well, tried to) a lengthy post on 3 FASCINATING absinthe-related things I found on here- (all but one pre-dating what we have on the site now)... but WS-Forums ate it. How saddening.

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Man, finding great stuff-

 

A sales receipt from 1858, which buried in a list of 40+ items list, in order:

 

Absinthe- 2 bottles.

Cognac- 6 bottles.

Bitters- Of the proper amount.

 

Looks a Hell of a lot like a Sazerac drinker to me!

 

Another- a newspaper story out of Lilles, France, of a man being poisoned by a few drops of what some 'friends' offered him, and told him was an absinthe 'of a brand he'd never seen'. Turns out, they were trying to kill him to steal his carriage- it was pure arsenic. He died two days later. They were both arrrested.

 

A third fun one is a police report from Algiers, during the war. A man got "Furiously drunk on the unreduced absinthe, he proceed to set fire to his kit, the misuse of which is prohibited by the police regulation. He was ordered 10 lashes, given soundly."

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Thank you so much for sharing this information, Larspeart. Traveling as I do in the circle of a few master's level librarians, this is particularly exciting news. I can't wait to hear more about this new tech breakthrough!

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I'm geekinig out already.

 

Also, I'm interested in sales receipts of European producers buying raw material from the US. I could swear a one page scan of which (Wormwood to one of the Pernod people) was posted somewhere on the WS but I've been unable to track it down.

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Congratulations! Very cool and very much looking forward to it! The limited Google Books/Livres just isn't enough for me anymore and I'm tapped on trying to guess-buy antique publications...

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This will go far beyond what GoogleBooks allows you to do, and importantly, goes WAY beyond monographs. Manuscripts and newspapers are where the gems that we want are at, and I am already finding tons- with only the tiniest sliver of content so far. For what you're doing, PV, I think this holds real value that could translate into new/renewed product- which of course is always my goal.

 

I hope by GAAF I will have about 25% of what we anticipate will be the total for the platform. We'll be continuing ditization (and wonderfully- preservation work on the originals themselves) over the next 3-5 years. That is the intention. When I get to MT, maybe I'll pull out the laptop and show some stuff I've found.

 

Evan- That is exactly the sort of thing that we hope comes out of this- deep data-mining, and full looks into not just major events, but transactional-level research.

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