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The golden years of data entry in America started with the commercial adoption of the high speed digital computer, and a related technology, the keypunch machine. It ended with the commercial adoption of the internet, which made the import and export of data entry services virtually effortless. Current and future advances in OCR will undoubtedly obsolete what reamains of the data entry profession. While it existed, data entry was the ideal job for many. A back office job that a wide variety of people could be trained to do...one could go a whole shift without having to deal with people, sell stuff, negotiate, or participate in any of the many other pissing contests that have become a prerequisite for making a living.
Nevertheless, there is much information in non-machine-readable form because institutions prefer to distribute information to individuals this way, for what seems to be obvious reasons. MachineReadability? is 90% of DataMining...
I propose that if data entry talent can't find a market, it can still find a use. An army of volunteer data entry operators could conceivably create a very detailed machine readable map of the economy, and open the world of DataMining to individuals everywhere, independently of businesses and other institutions. The recruiting pitch is that the benefit enjoyed by even one person (in this case the volunteer) due to such a shift in the informational playing field, could conceivably be worth the sacrificed time and effort.