Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Digital Demonstration

Over the last several months I have been working out a method to digitally preserve old minute books from the early meetings of the Synod of the Nile. They date back to the late 1800’s and go up to the early 1960’s. I discovered the fastest way was to take a digital photograph of each two-page spread in a book, and then compile all the images together using a program called Adobe Acrobat. That way one book equals one computer file.

I would have preferred to use a scanner, but it proved to be a very slow method, especially since many of the books are oversized and don’t fit on the scanner bed.

I feel like I have finally perfected the chosen method as far as I can. Fortunately in the process of figuring out the best way, I digitally compiled some twenty books. The project must continue long after I leave in July though, because there are many more books to be digitally preserved.

That means I must teach someone at the Synod offices how to do this, step by step; from the usage of the digital camera, to transferring the images to a computer, to compiling the images together using Adobe Acrobat.

Yesterday I tapped into some of my old graphic design skills in order to make this happen. While I worked as a designer in Atlanta, I designed instruction sheets for the installation of Kimberly Clark products. Kimberly Clark is a company that does business on a global scale, so often times the instructions could not include written language and had to be comprised of nothing but imagery. That way no matter what language the installer spoke, he or she would understand how to put the product together.

All that practice helped me put together an instruction sheet that is full of imagery so hopefully, with some lessons, it will make sense to the people here at the Synod, whether they speak English or not. The instruction sheet begins with imagery of how to set up the camera and tripod, and how to position the book. It goes through various complicated steps, and ends with the completed PDF file.

Today I gave the first tutorial to Amaal, the office secretary who doesn’t speak but a few words of English. Between the printed instructions and a demonstration, she seemed to get the process quite well. I hope Venise, who knows quite a bit more English, will be here tomorrow so that she can translate the finer points and help me answer any questions Amaal has.

During this year I have come to understand that when there is a barrier in communication, whether it’s a language barrier, a cultural barrier, or even a lack of desire to communicate, a little creativity can go a long way.

It probably won’t make much sense to you out of context, but if you would like to view the instructions I came up with, click HERE.

No comments: