Scanning question

Guy Dunphy guykd at
Sat Jul 20 19:34:14 CDT 2019

>> Have a look at
>> scanning-needs#/
>> Carl Claunch pointed me at this, he has one and I am sure he can
>> comment
>> further. I have ordered one.
>You can actually get them off of Amazon and they run specials on them quite often. However,  I have spoken to a few guys who own one and they are less than impressed....

Do you have links to anything they wrote about that?  If not can you ask them to email me?
I'd be very interested to hear their comments. I have a strong interest in the progress of scanning tech.

I too have a considerable library of stuff that should be scanned. I do a few small ones
now and then, but mainly as experiments in refining technique, and making myself think about
data structure of the output. I don't consider (my) current scanning capabilities good enough
to be worth dedicating the time required to scan large or critical works. 

Overall, the 'whole page at a time via a camera shot' technique has (so far) too many issues to
be acceptable for my purposes. Image non-linearity due to paper curve and wrinkles, illumination
variations, and px/inch resolution limitations plus that the effective px/inch varies after software
correction of page arching. 
Also all of the above mean you can't stitch partial images of larger sheets, which you can with
flatbed scanner images due to the precise pixel grid. Since lots of tech docs have huge foldouts...

The underlying motivation with the photo method is 'speed in use'. But I have found that achieving
visual consistency with the original publisher's creative intent, requires careful, slow proof
examination and touchup of every single page. There are just so many variables, and I've yet
to see any automated process that doesn't screw up in some circumstances. Maybe it's possible,
I just have doubts, given that even the human eye can have difficulties sometimes.

An important point, is that there are two very different objectives/viewpoints with scanning:

One is the 'information user' viewpoint. Someone who just needs the content of a manual while
fixing some piece of old tech gear. A visually accurate and clean copy, good photo capture etc,
is nice, but not essential.
I'm sympathetic to this case, since I use scanned manuals like this a lot too.
A fairly crappy copy is still usable.

The other viewpoint is the archivist/historian/cultural preservator. In this case much more
that mere readability is important. The basic aim is to preserve the creative quality and
spirit of the work, as well as its data content. Ideally the capture technology and file
format should be capable of supporting reprinting (given ideal print technology) physical
copies indistinguishable from the original (to the human eye and touch.)

Think about it from the viewpoint of someone 500 or a 1000 years in the future. Do you want those
descendents to think all the manuals from the 1900-2000s were crappy looking fax mode B&W jaggy garbage?
That there were no such things as the visually beautiful service manuals, that people put so much
effort into producing? Have you ever held a fat HP/Tektronix/Sony service manual in your hands,
and marvelled at the beautiful high-resolution massive foldouts? Don't you want anyone to have
that experience in the far future?

I take the second position. I think almost all of the current scanning efforts, even massive ones
like bitsavers (and the PDF format) are seriously inadequate in a technical sense. 
With people putting in that effort, that's fine. It does produce 'usable' copies online, and
that's good. Especially if the process is non-destructive. It can just be done again later when
better tech is available.

When the scanning process involves destruction of the original work... if a common document, ho hum.

But if it's a rare document, or even maybe so rare that it's the last one, then destroying it now
just to produce a digital copy inadequate to the aims of cultural preservation - that's a crime.
One right up there with genocide, contamination of entire countries with DU munitions, destruction
of libraries and museums, ecological mass destruction, etc.

I'm totally in favor of people scanning whatever they have. Only please, start with the common
works, for practice. If you have rare documents, only experiment on them with non-destructive methods.
Be patient. If you are having physical storage space problems, give the precious old documents to
someone who can continue to preserve them. 

Scanning technology continues to improve.
Unless a document is falling apart due to age, acid paper etc, it can wait.



More information about the cctalk mailing list