I spend a lot of time in the car and satellite radio is a little luxury that maintains a level of cultural continuity. Today while listening to Public Radio Exchange, I was entertained (and revealed to be a nerd) by a discussion of “captcha”, the distorted picture of words that you must type to prove to a website that you are a real person. The person talked about all the time that was wasted typing in these random letters and this similar thing called “recaptcha” had been invented that paired a real word with a word that an optical character recognition program could not decipher from the digitization scan from an old book. Seems as the old, faded type on yellowed paper can be read better by a human than a machine. So, deciphering this unintelligible (by the computer, which btw creates the security hurdle) word with a word ‘captcha’erized, one was doing something productive while jumping this security hurdle. (The word from the old book is given to multiple people, creating a consensus on its true spelling.) Aha, you’re thinking what I was thinking… yes, but I still wasted my time typing in these two words. Here is the great thing about the story – it is quicker to type two words than a few random characters. (Remember how quickly you can type ‘the’, etc.) So, “recaptcha” lets you navigate the security hurdle more quickly while helping to make classic text available to the masses. Not a bad case of synergy.
Which got me to thinking (while listening to Met Opera Radio), why don’t we do this more often? We need to open a door, why not hold it open for the next person? Doesn’t it take less effort to smile than frown? We’re exhaling anyway, why not send it through our vocal cords and make that breath a “Howdy!”?