Adventures in Transcription

Ladies and gentlemen, I encoded something!  This something, in fact:

Before I began this assignment, I anticipated that “encoding” would be an activity of saddening difficulty, but the actual process was not at all what I thought it would be.  The word “code” conjured up mental images of those mysterious black boxes (the kind that People Who Know What They Are Doing are wont to use) that contain endless tumbling cataracts of magical white text that could, most probably, break the world if improperly fiddled with.  However, the Transcribe Bentham project’s toolbar was very easy to use and I appreciated the beginners-welcome tone of the introductory materials.  The following sentence (from the Transcription Guidelines page) is quite possibly the most comforting thing I have encountered since embarking on Mission Digital Humanities:  “Some of this may seem daunting, but do not be afraid of having a go at transcription – it is impossible to break anything, and any errors you might make can easily be reverted.”

I love looking at old handwriting, but I think I’m on the same page as Dan when it comes to deciphering what it actually says.  I opted to start with a printed page so I could focus on the encoding.  After that went as well as it did, I turned to a handwritten page.  I decided to set that aside for now because I was having difficulty increasing the zoom to a comfortable level on the screen of my relatively small laptop.  I plan to continue working on it, but I intend to do it from the large screen of a Mac in the library.  Because my interests lie in the Medieval and Early Modern periods, I was delighted to find that Transcribe Bentham offers links to paleography resources.  I was not expecting to stumble into paleography as a result of DH homework!  This has been my favorite assignment so far! :)

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