Progress update, 19 to 25 November 2011

By Tim Causer, on 25 November 2011

Welcome to the progress update for the period 19 to 25 November 2011, during which excellent progress continues to be made.

2,248 manuscripts have now been transcribed, an increase of 41 on last week’s total. Of these, 1,987 (88%) are now complete and locked, up 40 on last week. During the next week we should be able to lock our 2,000th transcript, and we are well on course for having 2,500 manuscripts transcribed by Christmas.

The state of play for each box is as follows:

  • Box 2: 236 manuscripts transcribed of 532 (44%)
  • Box 27: 238 of 350 (68%)
  • Box 35: 226 of 439 (51%)
  • Box 50: 40 of 92 (43%)
  • Box 51: 38 of 940 (4%)
  • Box 62: 25 of 565 (4%)
  • Box 70: 160 of 250 (45%)
  • Box 71: 271 of 665 (40%)
  • Box 72: 123 of 664 (18%)
  • Box 73: 119 of 156 (76%)
  • Box 79: 63 of 199 (31%)
  • Box 95: 44 of 147 (30%)
  • Box 96: 391 of 539 (72%)
  • Box 97: 10 of 288 (3%)
  • Box 115: 226 of 307 (73%)
  • Box 139: 38 of 38 (100%)
  • Overall: 40% of the 5,580 manuscripts uploaded to the website have been transcribed thus far.

Most boxes of material saw some transcription this week, with 71 and 96 seeing the greatest increases; Box 96, in particular, is racing towards completion.

We often talk of, say, 50 many manuscripts being transcribed in the course of week, which on the face of it sounds reasonably impressive. However, to those not participating in or administering the project, this figure could seem nebulous and imprecise. To provide a better idea of what this really means, we thought we would share a couple of graphs by way of illustration.

The first chart shows the overall progress of the project, measured in the estimated number of words transcribed by volunteers. Measuring the length of Bentham manuscripts is a far from precise science; some are merely a couple of words long, others several hundred, while many contain up to 2,000 words. Box 96, for instance, contains some of the longest and most complex manuscripts uploaded to the Transcription Desk thus far.

This chart plots both a lower and very conservative estimate of an average of 250 words per transcript (in red), and an upper estimate of 750 (in blue). Transcribe Bentham has, then, on the current lower estimate, seen 562,000 words transcribed, and 1,686,000 words according to the upper estimate. As ever with these things, the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle, though probably towards the upper limit.

Chart 1: Overall progress of Transcribe Bentham, measured in words transcribed by volunteers.

The second chart examines progress on a weekly basis, also measured in words and on the same estimates as the first chart. Again, the truth of the matter lies somewhere in between the two coloured lines, but either way it is clear that Transcribe Bentham volunteers are transcribing thousands of words every week. The huge increase in transcription around the turn of 2010 was due to publicity following publication of the New York Times article last year.

Chart 2: Weekly progress of Transcribe Bentham, measured in words transcribed by volunteers

It should be noted that these graphs only take into account the text of the manuscripts, and not the often extensive markup which volunteers also add to their transcripts. We hope that they provide a more accurate and interesting measure of the project, and of the sterling work done – and being done – by volunteers.

Thanks, as ever, to all those who have taken part in the project during the last week, and for your contributions to Transcribe Bentham‘s ongoing success.