Old Weather sails on….

JISClogo

Excellent news arrived today. The powers-that-be at JISC have seen fit to reward Old Weather’s success with further funding. We’re one of the projects who were successful in the latest round of their rapid digitization grants. The application – which incidentally laid great emphasis on the hard work that you’d all already done – went in six weeks after the original project launched, and will provide for a host of new things in the next six months or so.

Firstly, we’re going to get more logs. The grant provides funding for the imaging of another (roughly) 3000 ship’s logs – so that’s 3000 more months of history to feed to the site. The idea is to go back and fill in the gaps during the existing time period covered by the site, so there will be new ships, and some existing ships will gain new images.

Secondly, we’re going to add an interface that allows you to assist us in the task of cleaning up the transcribed data. In the proposal, I used the example of HMS Acacia, where the final temperature record contained some sudden jumps between temperatures in the 70s and in the 40s. Reviewing the logs makes it pretty clear what went wrong – 7s are easy to misread as 4s (at least in the handwriting of the officer who wrote the log of the HMS Acacia) – but that’s easily fixed once you review the temperature series. The same goes for sudden jumps in position caused by mixing up East and West. Producing a tool to help make changes like this will not only help us maintain data quality, but also will mean that it’ll be easy to review your ship’s results once it reaches the end of a log. We’re also going to take the chance to build a more flexible interface, allowing us potentially to transcribe logs that aren’t in the same format as the current set.

We’ll report on progress here as we get cracking. Thanks, JISC, for the support, but thank you all for your hard work that led to this vote of confidence. As a thank you, we’ve got a little surprise prepared but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

About The Zooniverse

Online citizen science projects. The Zooniverse is doing real science online,.

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