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Hawaiian Newspaper Initiative Seeks to Liberate Knowledge

April 25, 2012, 11:32 AM HST · Updated April 25, 12:59 PM
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Ike Kūʻokoʻa — Liberating Knowledge, courtesy image.

By Wendy Osher

A special native Hawaiian initiative is seeking the help of volunteers around the world to typescript thousands of pages of Hawaiian-language newspapers into a searchable database.

The ‘Ike Kū‘oko‘a — Liberating Knowledge initiative was launched on November 28, 2011 to commemorate Lā Kūʻokoʻa (Independence Day) and Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea (Restoration Day), the main historical holidays of the Hawaiian kingdom era.

With just three months left to complete the project, thousands of volunteers are still needed. Organizers say that once the historic effort is complete, it will open up hundreds of thousands of pages worth of data on history, culture, politics, sciences, world view, and more.

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The project is being orchestrated through a coordinated effort between ʻIke Kūʻokoʻa Project Director, Kauʻi Sai-Dudoit; and Puakea Nogelmeier, Director of Awaiaulu, an organization dedicated to developing resources to bridge Hawaiian knowledge from the past to the present and the future.

Ike Kūʻokoʻa — Liberating Knowledge, courtesy image.

In all, more than 125,000 pages of Hawaiian-language newspapers were printed in more than a hundred different papers over the period spanning from 1834 to 1948.

The material equals a million or more typescript pages of text, apparently the largest native-language cache in the western world.

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“The newspapers became an intentional repository of knowledge, opinion and historical progress as Hawaiʻi moved through kingdom, constitutional monarchy, republic and territory, yet only 2% of that repository has been integrated into our English-speaking world today,” organizers say.

‘Ike Kū’oko’a is moving to change that percentage and to open up the resource for general access.

Of the 125,000 pages originally published, 75,000 have been found and made into digital images, and 15,000 of those images have been type-scripted by OCR or manually.

Organizers say 60,000 pages remain in hand, yet unsearchable.

The goal of the initiative is to make the whole available collection word-searchable, and to do it by July 31, 2012.

Volunteers log in at http://www.awaiaulu.org and reserve a page for typescripting; then, they simply type what they see.  No Hawaiian language skill is necessary to participate.

An image file and a text file are downloaded and then saved on the volunteer’s computer. The tiff image file is easily enlarged for viewing, and on the text file one types all the text that is seen on the page.

Though the newspaper is printed in columns, the typescript spans the page like a letter. Guidelines for typescripting are available on the website.

Once a page is completed and checked, it is submitted through the volunteer’s homepage.

In addition to have a typescripter’s name embedded in the document, the page can also be dedicated to a special someone, and a group can be credited with the work. The typescripter and the dedication will appear in the searchable text on the web.

In its first three months, the project drew more than 3,000 volunteers from eight countries, as well as volunteers from across the US and throughout the island chain.

Organizers say they will need thousands more volunteers to ensure success.

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