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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ted Talk: Captcha and Duolingo

This is a great talk that I really appreciated because I finally got a clear rationale for why I have to type in those darn funny characters when I try to post a comment in a blog. Yes, I know it's to stop spammers but it's not the most human-friendly system and it's particularly hard on those of us who are visually impaired. I use it because I must, but I curse the entire time thinking to myself, "Who is the idiot who thought this up?"

This Ted Talk was my first glance at the "idiot."  Yes, Luis von Ahn is responsible for this system and I'm surprised that the audience didn't throw shoes at him at the beginning of his talk.  But he turned out to be quite charming and funny.  He has also redeemed himself somewhat by tweaking CAPTCHA so it is now something rather useful called RECAPTCHA - a means of digitizing books.

He has a new project which is even more interesting called Duolingo.  This is nothing less than an attempt to translate content on the Web into multiple languages by helping people learn another language.

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