By Sarah Davenport, on 27 December 2010
Starting this fall, the editors have leveraged, if not the wisdom of the crowd, then at least its fingers, inviting anyone — yes, that means you — to help transcribe some of the 40,000 unpublished manuscripts from University College’s collection that have been scanned and put online. In the roughly four months since this Wikipedia-style experiment began, 350 registered users have produced 435 transcripts.
These transcripts, which are reviewed and corrected by editors, will eventually be used for printed editions of the collected works of Bentham, whose preserved corpse, clothed and seated, has greeted visitors to the college since 1850.
Other initiatives have recruited volunteers online, but the Bentham Project is one of the first to try crowd-sourced transcription and to open up a traditionally rarefied scholarly endeavor to the general public, generating both excitement and questions.
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