We run into them everyday on various web sites when filling in a contact form or placing an order online. They are the little box at the bottom of the page with the distorted writing which you need to "guess" what it says to be allowed to submit. It is basically a program that can tell whether a user is a human or a computer. There is an interesting version of this is Google's reCAPTCHA which on their official website claims to help digitize books, newspapers and old time radio shows that were written before the computer age. It does this by scanning the texts into images and placing those images into the CAPTCHA we see. When the words are successfully translated by a visitor, then those words get put back into their original texts and archived. The riddles digitize the text. Setting it free as it were.
Singer/songwriter Randy James found one of these in his internet travels one day, one reCAPTCHA in particular that read "Detour Cathy" and realized that this would make a great subject for his rock music project Sweet James. Imagining the CAPTCHA as a girl lost in the ether world looking for someone to come and set her free. "You really like it when I call out your name," goes the lyric, "you let me get away with anything...". And the song Detour Cathy was born. Now Randy wonders if this might actually be the first song ever written with a CAPTCHA as the subject. With the ever changing tides of new technologies it would not be surprising.
You can learn more about reCAPTCHAs on their official website
and hear more from the EP Full Frequency form Sweet James here
(Completely Automated Public turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart)