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Martin Cullingford wrote:
When it comes to reading the articles themselves, there is always the option to download the original page as a pdf if it seems too full of errors.
Martin Cullingford wrote:
Except that doing so is a very, very tedious process,
First you have to navigate through the tiny 'thumbnail' images. When you select one, you then have to try to work out from the not-big-enough-page-image if there's anything on it that you're interested in. If there is, you have to download it, and then go back to the wretched thumbnails again to find the next page. If an article runs over more than one page, you've got to download each one separately.
And the "slideshow" style thumbnail navigation tool is extremely frustrating to use - the way the whole page refreshes when you move from thumbnail to thumbnail is really annoying, and you can't use keyboard navigation (which would be by far the simpler option).
Just as one example of how an "image-based" magazine can be made usable, I'd offer the way Google does it - eg, http://books.google.com/books?id=tScEAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false
And keep an eye on how Popular Science develops its archive (which, with 137 years of existence, is even bigger than Gramophone's ;-) See http://www.popsci.com/announcements/article/2010-03/new-browse-137-years-popsci-archive-free
I realise the above will come across as very negative, and I'm sorry about that. I can understand the desire to OCR things (I was very enthusiastic about OCR ~16 years ago when creating the first web-based complete University prospectus - it saved a huge amount of work). And I appreciate that there are PDFs available (I really love looking at all the old adverts).
But, at the moment, neither work well enough for the archive to actually be usable.
"Louder! Louder! I can still hear the singers!"
- Richard Strauss to the orchestra, at a rehearsal.
My word, what a bunch of whingers we have on here! The Gramophone Archive is one of the greatest resources available on the net and yet what thanks do those responsible get? - moan, moan, moan!
Let's face it, the archive is not what it should be simply because it is a huge project to scan and make available what must be 1000+ issues. But it can be improved as long as people are willing to help. Errors can be easily reported with the click of a mouse. Alas people cannot be bothered. Better to whinge and moan, right?
Martin, a suggestion: can the archive not take on a "Wikipedia"-like aspect where users can update it themselves? This would save your team much work and give those of us who appreciate the archive a chance to get involved. The sooner the text is corrected the better. The search functions will work better and there will be no need for the useful but limited Gramofile.
What says you?
Yes, please, I beg you on my knees, bring Gramofile back. I am sure the Archive has plenty of treasures, but they are almost impossible to find.
I was a fairly regular user of Gramofile for many years. It was always one of my favorite internet resources - a really spectacularly great site to have access to. While the display of the articles left something to be desired, that was a pretty minuscule quibble compared with the enormous utility - and pleasure - of being able to call up all the CD-era reviews. I've used Gramofile so many times and been so happy it existed. The new archive site is a great idea - yes, it's still very rudimentary at this stage, but nonetheless it's a really exciting project and I'm sure in time it will be a great thing to have. However, in its current form it isn't useful for finding reviews. I am really profoundly disturbed that Gramofile is gone! It's awful to no longer have Gramophone reviews to look up. At this point I've checked out the new archive site a couple times, but mainly because I'm returning to the Gramophone websites in the hope that Gramofile has been restored.
Please put the Gramofile content back up! Apparently there are some technical issues that aren't intuitively apparent if it's not as simple as just putting the database of text articles back online, but I respectfully submit that even if it's a significant effort to get it up and running again, that should be a much higher priority project than tinkering with the archive site, which clearly is a long-term process... but with some focus one would hope Gramofile could be available again after a finite, short-term campaign to get it working, and then the effort to improve the archive can always continue; frankly it seems that software innovations to get halfway-decent OCR results aren't around the corner. Nevertheless I love the idea of having all the pages graphically preserved (hopefully eventually similar to The New Yorker's newish archive product, which is indeed pretty spectacular) - but to read the articles and so on, not for reviews. Finding reviews is a totally different need than reading articles because one must find the one particular review if one desires a review of something - it's not about the pleasure of browsing, reading, and "serendipitous discovery"... as previously noted, this requires robust metadata, and quality text so it's all highly searchable and easy to manipulate. In short, there's a need for Gramofile and the total graphical archive both, as two separate resources for two separate requirements for use.
Okay this is a ludicrously indulgently-long post, but one further note: there was one particularly unpleasant OCR mistake in an article and I used the "suggest a correction" feature. The article was never fixed so I suggested it again sometime later - I'm so helpful! - and it still wasn't fixed, even though it definitely was a high-priority edit given that the typo was not gobbledy-gook but actually a distinct and unsavory word in error. Yet even that wasn't fixed. What gives?
Please please please bring back Gramofile! Clearly we're all pining longingly for it!
Thanks to Martin Cullingford for his reply clarifying the Gramofile status. It's great to hear that it's on the way to a comeback. I look forward to it with keen anticipation (as I try and find reviews of Bach Orchestral Suites...Boston Baroque or Trevor Pinnock, anyone?)
One improvement that could be made to the Archive would be to display a bit more of the text in the search results.
The Archive is a great resource, don't get me wrong, athough seems more appropriate for browsing than specifically searching for reviews.
I also think that old site was much, much better. And I also think that it will never be back. Why? Because someone get payed for creating new site and editors who approved this will not admit that they were wrong.
Agree. It's very frustrating trying to track down reviews from past issues. The old Gramofile was user-friendly and straightforward. It wasn't broke -why fix it!
I find the new archive so frustrating for the purposes of finding (and reading) reviews that I have given up using it altogether. Gramofile was absolutely excellent: so simple and quick to use, and so clearly presented.
If everybody seems to agree, will we, the readers and users, ever receive a reply, an acknowledgement of the problem, an explanation, any kind of reaction? Or nobody is listening?
Dear Gramophone/Gramofile (to whom it may concern),
I have for some time been meaning to write to you on the subject of Gramofile.
I now find that the search options previously offered by Gramofile (by composer, title, artist, orchestra or when necessary, keyword)
, have been replaced when searching the Archive by keyword only. This latter is a notoriously blunt instrument, as my searches with it in various fields since the 1970s have repeatedly made clear. My I add my voice to those of your other correspondents asking for the original Gramofile search options to be restored?
A possible additional idea that occurs to me ( a source of income for you?) is the offer for sale of a regularly updated, searchable DVD of Gramofile. I acquired a CD-rom from you some years ago which I found very useful for retrospective searches, but of course it is now very out of date.
◦ 13 issues per year
◦ 45,000 reviews online
◦ Digital archive since 1923
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