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Crowdsourcing Bentham: beyond the traditional boundaries of academic history

Terras, MM; Causer, T; (2014) Crowdsourcing Bentham: beyond the traditional boundaries of academic history. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing , 8 (1) (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Transcribe Bentham is an award-winning crowdsourced manuscript transcription initiative that intends to engage students, researchers, and the general public with the thought and life of the philosopher and reformer, Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), by making available digital images of his manuscripts for anyone, anywhere in the world, to transcribe. In the two years since its launch in September 2010, over two million words of crowdsourced transcription have been produced by volunteers. This paper will examine Transcribe Bentham’s contribution to humanities research and the burgeoning field of digital humanities, within the context of crowdsourcing. It will then discuss the potential for the project’s volunteers to make significant new discoveries among the vast Bentham Papers collection, and examine several examples of interesting material transcribed by volunteers thus far. We demonstrate here that a crowd-sourced initiative such as Transcribe Bentham can open up activities that were traditionally viewed as academic endeavours to a wider audience interested in history, whilst uncovering new, important historical primary source material. In addition, we see this as a switch in focus for those involved in digital humanities, highlighting the possibilities in using online and social media technologies for user engagement and participation in cultural heritage.

Type:Article
Title:Crowdsourcing Bentham: beyond the traditional boundaries of academic history
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version:http://www.euppublishing.com/journal/ijhac
Language:English
Additional information:This is a pre-publication version of ‘Crowdsourcing Bentham: beyond the traditional boundaries of academic history’ by Tim Causer and Melissa Terras. It will be published in April 2014 in vol. 8 (1) of the International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing (http://www.euppublishing.com/journal/ijhac), and appears here thanks to Edinburgh University Press.
Keywords:Crowdsourcing, Jeremy Bentham, Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, Collaborative transcription, Manuscripts
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Information Studies
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Laws > Bentham Project

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