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Jeremy Bentham and the computer age: reflections on crowdsourcing the transcription of handwritten documents

Schofield, P; Causer, T; (2015) Jeremy Bentham and the computer age: reflections on crowdsourcing the transcription of handwritten documents. Annual Bulletin of Resources and Historical Collections Office (shiryo-shitsu), The Library of Economics, The University of Tokyo , 5 (1) pp. 2-19.

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Abstract

Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), the English philosopher and reformer, is known as the founder of utilitarianism, the doctrine that states that the right action is that which promotes the greatest happiness of the greatest number. The Bentham Project was established at University College London in 1959 in order to produce a new authoritative edition of Bentham’s Collected Works, based in part on printed materials, but also on over 70,000 manuscript folios deposited mainly in UCL Library. To date, thirty-one volumes out of a projected eighty have been published in the new edition. We describe the use of new technology in the Bentham edition, from the compilation of the Bentham Papers Database Catalogue in 2003–6 through to our scholarly crowdsourcing platform Transcribe Bentham (TB) and involvement in the tranScriptorium project, which aims to develop software that will transcribe handwritten historical documents. TB was launched in September 2010, and by 30 September 2014 nearly 11,000 documents had been transcribed and encoded by volunteers. During the course of running TB, we have recorded statistical information that has allowed us to assess the potential cost savings of scholarly crowdsourcing, and have gathered insights into the profiles and motivations of volunteers. We reflect on the challenges and opportunities that have arisen in attempting to embed new technology in a traditional scholarly publishing programme, and try to assess the broader implications for Humanities research.

Type: Article
Title: Jeremy Bentham and the computer age: reflections on crowdsourcing the transcription of handwritten documents
Location: Japan
Language: English
Keywords: crowdsourcing, transcription, Bentham Project
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws > The Bentham Project
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1478231
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