The Art of Legibility
Citation: Corrado, S. "The Art of Legibility". Erowid Extracts. Feb 2016;28:18-19. Online edition: Erowid.org/culture/characters/shulgin_alexander/shulgin_alexander_article8.shtml
There seemed to have been a number of volunteers before my participation, but progress had been slow because the transcription process is difficult and involves highly technical language and drawings. Some initial work had been done on the first (and most complicated) pharmacology lab book, with the text entered plainly into a wiki page, but it didn't look to have been touched in some time.
I am now approaching transcribing my one-thousandth page of Sasha's work.
When I joined the project, the task was simply to transcribe the scans into text, but I wasn't satisfied with the final output. I wanted to figure out how to present these books in a readily accessible format that was both machine- and human-readable for ease of searching, while redacting the names of people who had not yet approved being publicly acknowledged. At first I considered using HTML, but due to its shortcomings (and my lack of HTML programming skills), I decided to create PDF documents matching the look and style of the original pages (see facing page).
The first documents we received from Team Shulgin were redacted scans of notebook pages, but the redacting was inconsistent. What I needed was access to the un-redacted scans of original books. This presented an opportunity that I will never forget as long as I live. Erowid Center facilitated getting me invited to the Shulgin Farm in California, for what must have been one of the last annual Easter parties with Sasha in attendance. This gave me the chance to meet Earth and Fire and the man himself, along with the rest of Team Shulgin, and they were able to put a face to my email address and know I could be trusted. That day was every bit as great as one could imagine; I spent most of the day in Sasha's lab just soaking it all in, hanging out with Paul Daley, and meeting and talking to a lot of interesting people.
After that, the lab notebook transcribing project was mine -- I am still working on it today. It's hard to attract additional volunteers for this task due to its tedious nature, which even to a Shulginophile drug geek is more monotonous than you might imagine. A labour of love for sure! Sometimes I wonder if the only reason I make progress is out of sheer stubbornness. The number of hours I've poured into these notebooks is greater than I'd like to admit, but I feel I've created something that will provide lasting value to curious seekers in the future. Even if all that comes of it is a permanent online record of Sasha's work, it will have been worth every minute.