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NASA Space Media Science

NASA Requests Help With Von Braun's Notes 148

DynaSoar writes "NASA is soliciting ideas from the public on how best to catalog and digitize the collected notes of Wernher von Braun. 'We're looking for creative ways to get it out to the public,' said project manager Jason Crusan. 'We don't always do the best with putting out large sets of data like this.' The PDF notes are those of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, the first director of NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and are typed with copious handwritten notes in the margin. According to the official request for information, NASA needs ideas on what format to use (PDF), how to index the notes, and how to create a useful database. The unique nature and historical value of the data, literally discovered in boxes six months ago, is what motivated NASA to ask the public for ideas."
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NASA Requests Help With Von Braun's Notes

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  • TIFF FTW (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alta ( 1263 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @10:31AM (#28513835) Homepage Journal

    Lets go with a format almost anyone can read. As soon as their all scanned in as high res TIFFs THEN you can begin to OCR them and create hybrid PDF's which CAN be indexed. From there we have a good start with high quality originals and searchable dirivitives. Then people can start rolling whatever custom solutions they want to.

    Yes, I know that OCR is going to be very crude, especially for anything hand written. But what it will do is get us a very good starting point. Id like to see a wiki set up with the OCR'd text as the beginning text, a link to the document and then the public can begin to go in and correct the OCR mistakes, and fill in what just flat out couldn't be OCRd.

  • by g34rs ( 1583313 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @10:39AM (#28513923)
    Thanks NASA for making me feel like my opinion is valued and useful. Kind of like that, oh what was it called? The vote for the name of that satellite thingy? When really you're just passing the buck because your budget didn't include "digitizing old notes."
  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 29, 2009 @10:39AM (#28513925)

    You guys clearly do not read enough electronic media. PDF and Djvu are the more widespread and relatively ubiquitous modern electronic book formats. Djvu tends to be vastly superior to PDF in terms of file size though.

    Read all about it here:


  • by V for Vendetta ( 1204898 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @10:49AM (#28514079)

    What about Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org]?

  • by urbanmapper ( 1466247 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @10:57AM (#28514157) Homepage
    How about take a page from the Talmud? [wikimedia.org] Seems a perfect format, and there's been thousands of years of indexing of that document.
  • Re:NASA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:13AM (#28514355) Homepage

    Not sure if I can really blame them.

    This past weekend I had a garage sale and, as I was clearing stuff, realized how much junk paperwork I had stashed in the garage. There were books, manuals, class notes, lecture notes (from those I attended and those I gave), meeting notebooks, documentation on long obsolete processes (Token Ring MAU reset procedures, Novell Netware rebuild procedures). I had notebooks of stories, embarrassing journal entries from college ("DH has the most beautiful eyes!!"), and all sorts of other uselessness that I had never really cataloged.

    And how do you catalog such stuff anyway? I have 20 years of stuff. NASA generates less than one hour what it's taken me a lifetime to accrete.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:32AM (#28514617) Homepage Journal
    How about something like this? http://tobaccodocuments.org/ [tobaccodocuments.org]
  • For the right persons, transcribing the handwritten notes and sketches would be very rewarding. Werner Von Braun was pivotal technologist whose work for the Nazis either posed one of the greatest threats to England during WWII or, through high level monkeywrenching, managed to keep that threat from becoming a reality. He was definitely a very complex character who succeeded in doing a helluva good balancing act on dangerously high political high wires.

    So access to his notes in exchange for doing the drudge work of transcribing them could be very interesting to biographers, technology historians, and the like. There are probably at least half a dozen very different biographies that could be written about this man, all of them equally accurate.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.