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Hunter and Clark use Picnam to manage scanned invoices and timesheets. 

"What a great program!  I've been goofing off for months with other programs and this is the easiest to use and simple to boot." Bernhard R.


Installation Instructions

Online Documentation

Managing Scanned Documents

Picnam contains features to make working with scanned documents easier.

Why Text Files?

The most common question people ask about Picnam is "Why did you choose to use text files for comments?" This article gives some of the reasons you might prefer to use text files rather than metadata to store information about your pictures.

Recording Information About Genealogy and Family History Photos

Picnam is ideal for making notes about scanned documents and photos for family history or genealogy.

Preserving Digital Photos

Digital photography makes it easy to take lots of photos, but they are very easily lost. What can you do to make sure your photos survive for years to come?

Wikipedia - bad news for knowledge?

Wikipedia is like the Curate's egg - parts of it are excellent. However I am not convinced that the good parts are enough to overcome the problems with inaccurate information.

You don't have to look very far to find suspect information in Wikipedia. The most problematic areas are probably where science intersects with everyday life. Many people have some knowledge of the topics, but often not at a scientific level. When it comes to editing articles, a little knowledge can be dangerous.

An example is the Healthy Eating topic. This is a fairly mainstream subject and you would hope the information would be reasonably good, although it is a subject where a lot of research is still being done. However, it contains statements such as "milk and meat are the stuff of the mammalian body, which therefore assimilates them readily" and "Chlorophyll is known to be a central nutrient in all mammalian diets." I would not say that milk and meat are unhealthy, but I don't think they are more digestible than many other foods. Green leafy vegetables are certainly healthy, but that is due to nutrients other than chlorophyll. Chlorophyll itself is not generally considered to be a valuable nutrient. These are fairly basic concepts, that I would hope a reference source could get right.

The proponents of Wikipedia point out that if you find inaccuracies in articles you can correct them. However, there is a great difference in the level of expertise needed to recognise that something might be incorrect, and to actually write a correction for an article. It also assumes that people will recognise when changes to in articles are an improvement. Anecdotally there are examples of people making corrections to obvious errors in articles, only to have them changed back to the old versions within hours. This is probably not surprising. If someone has spent time writing an article it is only human nature for them to prefer their version, rather than corrections made by someone else. It is as easy to remove corrections to Wikipedia as it is to remove vandalism. I suspect that often it is the persistence of the author rather than the correctness of the information that determines what ends up in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia ignores the nature of knowledge. Facts are not necessarily what everybody agrees on. Consensus is not a good way to determine what is true. I wonder what would have happened if Wikipedia had been around in the days when people believed the Earth was flat. How difficult it would have been to get an entry to say that the Earth was a sphere? I am sure that no matter how often you updated it people would come in and change it back to say the Earth was flat.

To fix the problem the whole philosophy that anyone can edit anything needs to be abandoned. There needs to be some sort of review of edits before they appear as part of an article, and there needs to be some way to verify that people actually have good knowledge of the subject before they can update an article. Of course this immediately poses the problem of how you determine someone's qualifications. It moves towards the more traditional system of researchers, editors etc. If you could combine more reliable information with Wikipedia's flexibility and breadth, it would be excellent.

This is not to say that Wikipedia is not a useful reference. The problem is it too useful. I wouldn't be surprised if it provides the answer you are looking for 99% of the time. Its cost and convenience make it a formidable competitor for any other reference. That makes life very difficult for more traditional reference sources that want to put more effort into ensuring that their information is correct. Even now, some people forget that information on the Internet needs to be viewed with suspicion. As people get more and more used to using the Internet for research, I am afraid that people will start to view Wikipedia as an authoritive source of information.

The simple fact that the information is dynamic is a problem when using it as a reference. Can you refer to something if it could be changed tomorrow? How can you make sure that information is correct if it could be edited anytime?

The Curate's Egg

A lot of people are probably wondering "What is this curate's egg thing anyway?" For those who may not be familiar with late 19th century British humour the curate's egg refers to a cartoon from an 1895 edition of Punch. The curate is eating with the bishop. The Bishop says "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones". Trying not to cause offence the curate replies, "Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!"

Looking for an online example of the cartoon, ironically Wikipedia was one of the first sources that I found. However, again, I have some issues with the accuracy of the information. Wikipedia says that the curate's egg is "something that is partly good and partly bad and as a result is not wholly satisfactory, but also not completely unsatisfactory either." However an egg can't be only partly bad, so a better explanation is that it is something that someone claims is good, but in reality any good points don't make up for the flaws. An explanation that I prefer can be found here.

Maybe this is being too harsh on Wikipedia. However, I do worry that Wikipedia will become established as a trusted source of information, and people will assume the information it contains is correct. Under the current update system none of the information in Wikipedia can be completely trusted, but advantages in cost and convenience mean that it is likely to be an overwhelming competitor for more traditional references. That can't be a good thing for the state of knowledge in general.

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