OCR’ing directly onto the White House website

UPDATE: Welcome PowerLine and HotAir readers. Be sure to check out today’s proposal on paying Congress to stay home — it’s the bargain of the century!  Please enjoy the site and come back often!

If you saw the WhiteHouse  “ji’Qlllework memo” this morning at PowerLine, or later at HotAir, you’ll be interested to know that they’ve finally gotten around to fixing it at the White House website.

They corrected it by posting a PDF here which makes obvious how such nonsensical text made it onto the White House’s official website.  Someone OCR’ed the PDF (Optical Character Recognition) then simply pasted that text up WITHOUT EVEN READING IT, rather than using the original text or at least proofreading the OCR. Amazing.

I just now OCR’ed the PDF in Adobe, and came up with ji’Qlllework. OCR is pretty weak to begin with, but whoever OCR’ed the letter obviously failed to even check the results. The letter is filled with italicized words, which does to OCR what talking with a mouth full of marbles would do to voice transcription.

You’d kind of think that someone would have just found out where the PDF came from and gotten the text, no?  Stay tuned for this explanation from The One, “It’s come to my attention that one of the memos we inherited from the previous administration was filled with the kinds of typographical errors that got us into this mess in the first place. We are, as usual, working to clean up the mess.”

I probably made similar mistakes at my first “real” job.  That was working at a Frozen Yogurt stand at the beach. I suppose this is what happens when you make running the country someone’s very first real job.

UPDATE 2: Link to a full-length screenshot of the original HTML version of the letter is here.  Read it and weep.

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11 Responses to “OCR’ing directly onto the White House website”

  1. More incompetence at the White House - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum Says:

    [...] when you use an optical scanner your text gets a bit screwy, and you need to proofread it again. OCR’ing directly onto the White House website So Right Original text as it appeared on the website. Letter from the President to G-20 Leaders | The [...]

  2. Hot Air » Do we need a White House literacy program? Says:

    [...] OCR’ing directly onto the White House website « So Right [...]

  3. JimC Says:

    I think the problem is in the program they used to OCR the PDF. I opened the PDF with Nuance’s PDF Converter Pro and it automatically converted the image-only PDF to a “searchable” PDF (i.e. one with a text layer) without a single error as far as I can see. Italics came out as in the original. Now the text is crisp and sharp, can be selected and copied, and the PDF file size was reduced from 171 KB to 61 KB.

    My conclusion is that they need to get better software. It would save a lot of embarrassment.

  4. Mark Says:

    “It’s come to my attention that one of the memos we inherited from the previous administration was filled with the kinds of typographical errors that got us into this mess in the first place. We are, as usual, working to clean up the mess.”

    You must be Obama’s speech writerz- this is exactly his typical language.

  5. John Rothwell Says:

    in 2015, the year he says the mess created by the previous admisistration will be fixed, isn’t going to matter because Obama is going to be just a bad dream that we aren’t sure really happened.

  6. Mike H Says:

    So being a Law professor, State senator, & U.S. Senator all are not “real jobs ?”

    • author Says:

      Not that that was the point of the post, but in an executive sense no, they are not. Those are all jobs with no managerial responsibility beyond perhaps a couple of Teacher’s Aides and a small office staff. And in the case of the Senate, there is a Chief of Staff who manages every last detail of the office.

      And yet, the President is the CEO of an organization with roughly 15 million employees and a multi-trillion dollar budget. As far as anyone is aware, he’s never managed an operation with a P&L, he’s never managed a staff, he’s never had to make payroll, he’s never had to balance a budget . . . For that matter, can you name anything he accomplished in the “real jobs” you cite?

  7. Steve Says:

    THANK YOU for posting this! Don’t know if I should laugh or cry…

    Steve
    Common Cents

    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

  8. Casey Kimmel Says:

    Can someone explain to me why they needed to OCR the document at all? Are they typing this stuff up on a typewriter and then scanning it in to make it electronic??? Or did they outsource the whole letter creation process and then leave out the requirement to provide a copy of the word file?

  9. Mike H Says:

    “I suppose this is what happens when you make running the country someone’s very first real job.” So real job really means real executive job?

    So by that logic JFK never had a “real Job” before he was president (House 1947-53, Senate 1953-61). Hell I don’t recall McCain being a CEO or a governor either.

    • author Says:

      Mike-

      Again, you’re sort of missing the point of the post, but that’s your prerogative I suppose. John Kennedy and John McCain both led soldiers in battle. I consider that to be pretty important leadership training even if you don’t.

      That said, I think Governors make better Presidents than legislators which is why as a nation we’ve so rarely chosen legislators for the top job. In 2008 by the general election we had 2 Senators to choose from. But to your point, John Kennedy suffered an embarrassing defeat early in his administration with the Bay of Pigs invasion. Many historians attribute that in part to Kennedy’s failure to provide naval and air support for the invading force. Kennedy’s failure in the Bay of Pigs probably contributed to Soviet brinksmanship in the Cuban Missile Crisis, by which point Kennedy seems to have grown and matured quite a bit.

      The question is whether our current President has it in him to mature and grow. We’re almost as far into Obama’s term as the Cuban Missile Crisis was in Kennedy’s. I’d say Obama’s handling of the Gulf spill is a far cry from JFK’s leadership, how about you?

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