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Let a crowd transcribe your document

November 11, 2010

A great number of historical documents have been converted to search-able digital formats, but there are still uncounted numbers of pages and sound recordings to be transcribed. The cost of paying people to do this work can be prohibitive, and willing volunteers may be available. If the material has been scanned and uploaded to a website, anyone on the planet with an Internet connection can be enlisted to help. This is an example of a phenomenon called crowdsourcing. Genealogy enthusiasts and others have been doing it for years.

A new tool is under development at the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University), supported by grants from a variety of sources. Scripto will be an open source tool that helps users contribute transcriptions to online documentary projects. When it is ready, it will include a versioning and a full set of editorial tools, much of it based on Mediawiki (the open-source software that runs Wikipedia).

The folks at George Mason may have been inspired in part by the Bentham Papers Transcription Initiative, which is also using Mediawiki.

Related reading – Crowd-Sourcing the World (MIT Technology Review)

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