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Google's Text-Savvy Tech Acquisition

Google just doesn't stop with the book-related news (see my previous blog about Google's settlement with the Department of Justice and it's pending push into print-on-demand book kiosks). Also this week Google has acquired a start-up called reCaptcha, that aims to be a win-win for the web giant. It should both cut down on spam and help in its push to digitize books. The acquisition isn't making big headlines but it seems worth noting as part of a larger strategy to open doors to digital publishing while keeping users happy.

Anyone who's ever had to copy a word into a box in order to forward an article on a news website has interacted with this type of technology. ReCaptcha asks web users to do word puzzles with twisted or warped text in order to register at a website or make an online purchase.

The idea is that a computer couldn't read the warped text, so the test verifies that users are real people rather than spam-happy bots. And the text is from real books, furthering Google's plan to bring more out-of-print books-- even those with warped text that can't be digitally scanned-- to the web. The company was incubated at Carnegie Mellon University, a university that one might guess is also hoping to advance the future of digital books.

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