Crowdsourcing Transcriptions

I was rather amused at the crowdsourced transcription assignment for class, since there was a Crowdsourcing session at THATCamp Lehigh Valley (which I attended this weekend).  If you like this sort of thing, but can’t stand Bentham’s handwriting, that link gives you many other sites to try your hand on.

I chose to transcribe JB/002/153/001, which is part of Bentham’s economic writings entitled Annuity Notes, mostly because the handwriting looked pretty clear compared to some of the other pages I had seen.  I noticed that the process did get markedly easier I as I went through the document; I had more questionable “translations” in the first paragraph than the rest of the document.  Also, it was easier to decipher words that appeared multiple times.  Despite those advantages, there were still several words I was unsure of (one of which I am pretty sure is a name, so I don’t feel bad about being unable to decipher that one).  Like Cliffie, I asked my boyfriend to take a look, and he agreed on several of my translations and suggested others that made more sense.

I think transcription work like this naturally becomes a collaborative process, especially when issues of handwriting become involved.  When I was teaching, we used to get together with the other grade level teachers to calibrate norms and grade the written “constructed response” standardized test practice questions, and the process went much quicker when you had a colleague right next to you to help interpret handwriting, or to confirm or change your assessment.  I wonder if those of us with a background in English have a natural tendency to get a second pair of eyes to look over our work with our training in peer editing and/or workshopping?

Update: Turns out what I thought was a name (something Billy) was actually “Exchequer Bills”.   Not feeling bad about missing that!