Re: Street in Detroit,Michigan #general

Hank Mishkoff

A helpful JewishGenner wrote this note:

"Joan Rosen asked about the Detroit street name Montealin. This was (and
still is) the correctly-spelled name of a street in Detroit, according to
my dim memory with Google's invaluable help. You'll find (related to
Detroit-area history): 'The French general, Montealin, likewise fell; and
his second in command was mortally wounded. General Wolfe died on the
field of battle, but he lived long...' if you slog through;view=fulltext "

This turned out to be an unintended but valuable lesson in the dangers
of relying on OCR (optical character recognition), the technology that's
used to scan books, convert the scans (which are basically photos) to
text, and post that text on the Internet. OCR has gotten much more
accurate over the years, but it still has some of the same problems with
interpreting letters in printed text as we humans do with handwritten

In this case, Joan Rosen was trying to interpret handwritten text that
looked like "Montealin," but which my Detroit-raised girlfriend
suspected was actually "Montcalm." If you follow the link a couple of
paragraphs back, you will indeed find a text that refers to a battle
between Generals Wolfe and Montealin -- but if you read the Wikipedia
account of The Battle of Quebec, you'll find that Wolfe's adversary was
actually Montcalm, not Montealin. The text was obviously scanned, and
the OCR program mistook "Montcalm" to be "Montealin."

The fact that computers have the same problems in interpreting text as
humans do is both disappointing and gratifying, and serves as yet
another reminder that those of us who rely on historical documents
should not believe everything we read. :)

Hank Mishkoff

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