AxisMundi Jerusalem

Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories

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Sorting through a digital history


With more and more libraries digitising their archives, academics have a growing number of texts they can access without having to get on a plane and journey to distant continents. Perhaps in the near future, researchers will be able to simply log on from their office to view a database of a nearly infinite number of ancient texts, prayers or whatever writings have been handed down by our ancestors. Dead Sea scrolls

Of course, problems arise with digitising thousands of years of handwritten documents. Making a digital copy is the easy part. Helping the computer understand what is written, well, that is a tough one.

Gideon Ben-Zvi, who has founded a couple companies in the field of Optical Character Recognition (OCR), told me that: “The eyes outperform even the best OCR software by magnitude, although the speed achieved by OCR is far faster than humans.”

That means a researcher can sit for hours in front of a page of text and will always emerge with a better understanding of the words written. However, once a computer program can discern words, phrases and even handwriting in the most highly degraded texts, you can then search through millions of pages almost instantaneously.

Send in the drones


Israel’s economy is, in large part, mirroring what is happening elsewhere in the world – with job losses, factory closures and all the other symptoms of the global financial meltdown. 

One sector though is defying all the odds.

Elbit Systems – an Israeli company that makes electro-optics, airborne systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and command and control systems – announced this week a record 4th quarter with profits rising 32.6 percent and strong forecasts for continued growth in the year ahead.

What is it about elections….?


What is it about elections that gets the creative juices flowing among TV executives and their technology departments?

Brits (of a certain age), like myself, will purr with nostalgic glee looking at this video that charts the history of the fabled ‘swingometer’ – stalwart of election night coverage over the years. The excitement triggered by the  arrival of computers – sometime in the 1970s – is obvious on the face of the presenters! Priceless.