Archive for December, 2011

Progress update, 17 to 23 December 2011

By Tim Causer, on 24 December 2011

Welcome to what is a slightly truncated progress update, which we hope will be forgiven owing to the time of year! As might be expected, this week has been slightly slower than usual.

2,383 manuscripts have now been transcribed, an increase of 15 on last week. We will fill you in on the number of locked transcripts when we check submissions after the holiday period.

The state of play for each box is as follows:

  • Box 2: 263 manuscripts transcribed of 532 (49%)
  • Box 27: 238 of 350 (68%)
  • Box 35: 226 of 439 (51%)
  • Box 50: 43 of 92 (45%)
  • Box 51: 44 of 940 (4%)
  • Box 62: 26 of 565 (4%)
  • Box 70: 163 of 250 (46%)
  • Box 71: 282 of 665 (42%)
  • Box 72: 127 of 664 (19%)
  • Box 73: 119 of 156 (76%)
  • Box 79: 71 of 199 (35%)
  • Box 95: 44 of 147 (30%)
  • Box 96: 453 of 539 (84%)
  • Box 97: 16 of 288 (5%)
  • Box 115: 230 of 307 (75%)
  • Box 139: 38 of 38 (100%)
  • Overall: 42% of the 5,580 manuscripts uploaded to the website have been transcribed thus far.

Thanks, as ever, to all those who given their time during the past week and, indeed, throughout the year. It is hugely appreciated.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas!

Progress update, 10 to 16 December 2011

By Tim Causer, on 16 December 2011

Welcome to the progress update for the period 10 to 16 December 2011, in yet another fairly busy week in which we have been able to increase our ratio of completed transcripts.

2,368 manuscripts have now been transcribed, an increase of 25 on last week’s total. Of these, 2,114 (89%) are now complete and locked.  We edge ever closer to our 2,500th transcript!

  • Box 2: 258 manuscripts transcribed of 532 (48%)
  • Box 27: 238 of 350 (68%)
  • Box 35: 226 of 439 (51%)
  • Box 50: 42 of 92 (45%)
  • Box 51: 43 of 940 (4%)
  • Box 62: 26 of 565 (4%)
  • Box 70: 163 of 250 (46%)
  • Box 71: 279 of 665 (41%)
  • Box 72: 126 of 664 (18%)
  • Box 73: 119 of 156 (76%)
  • Box 79: 71 of 199 (35%)
  • Box 95: 44 of 147 (30%)
  • Box 96: 449 of 539 (83%)
  • Box 97: 16 of 288 (5%)
  • Box 115: 230 of 307 (75%)
  • Box 139: 38 of 38 (100%)
  • Overall: 42% of the 5,580 manuscripts uploaded to the website have been transcribed thus far.

Boxes 2 and 96 again saw the most transcription, and three boxes (73, 96, and 115) are at least three-quarters of the way to completion!

In case you may have missed it elsewhere, Transcribe Bentham will remain available throughout the Christmas and new year break, but project staff will be away from 21 December 2011 until 9 January 2012. Submissions will not be checked until our return, but we will try to answer queries wherever possible. You can read more about the holiday arrangements here, and there is also a collection of Transcribe Bentham Frequently Asked Questions dealing with problems which you might experience, such as during account registration and in resizing the image viewer. Do let us know if you think anything needs adding to the FAQ list!

Thanks, as ever, to all those who have given their time and effort during the past seven days. It is greatly appreciated.

Transcribe Bentham FAQ

By Tim Causer, on 15 December 2011

Q: Can anyone really take part?

A: They can indeed. You do not need any specialist knowledge or training, technical expertise, or historical background: just some enthusiasm (and, perhaps, some patience). All you have to do is to create a volunteer account, in order to be granted editing privileges, a process which should only take a few seconds. An automated email will be sent to you containing a link, which you need to click to validate. You’re then ready to transcribe!

Q: I have registered, but can’t transcribe anything, or get a blank page when I click the ‘click here to edit’ button. What’s going on?

A: A number of volunteers have reported that they did not receive the validation email after registering. In most of these instances, the email is redirected to spam or junk mail folders (particularly by free email providers such as Hotmail, Yahoo, or GMail. Please check your spam folder for the validation email, and perhaps consider editing your spam filters to allow Transcribe Bentham emails to come through.

If your validation email has expired, simply log out of your account on the Transcription Desk, and return to the account creation page. Enter your username, and click ‘email new password’.

Q: How do I get started with transcription?

A:We recommend that you consult our ‘Getting Started’ guidelines,which provide a summary of how the project works, how to transcribe and encode your work, and includes two short step-by-step instructional videos on embarking on your first transcript. There are also more detailed transcription instructions, which cover everything you might wish to know about transcribing and encoding (and a bit more besides).

Q: This text-encoding stuff looks a bit fiddly. Why do we do it?

We ask volunteers to encode their transcripts in Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)-compliant XML; TEI is a de-facto standard for encoding electronic texts.

This probably sounds more terrifying than it actually is, though! We are aware that the encoding can be off-putting for volunteers, and so have attempted to make the addition of mark-up as straightforward as possible by creating the ‘Transcription Toolbar’. Rather than having to type the tags yourself, simply clicking on a button will generate the required piece of mark-up. Further work is currently underway on making the transcription process more user-friendly, so please do bear with us.

By encoding your transcripts, you are helping to create a richer resource: researchers and students interested in Bentham’s writing process, his deletions and revisions, will be afforded the opportunity to pursue this, owing to your work. Encoded transcripts also allow for more powerful and refined searching: rather than search for every occurrence of ‘panopticon’, it will be possible to see where ‘panopticon’ occurs only when deleted, for example.

Q: Why should I take part? How will my contributions make a difference?

A: In a number of quite exciting ways. First, your transcripts will act as a basis for future editions of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, which is being published by UCL’s Bentham Project. As you will see, manuscripts are often non-sequential and often do not make a great deal of sense in their own right. Your diplomatic transcripts (i.e. transcripts with all the additions, deletions, marginal notes etc) will be collated by Bentham Project editors to produce an edited, annotated text for publication. Your collaboration will be of material assistance in this work, by providing Bentham Project editors a significant head-start when putting together a Collected Works volume. You will be fully acknowledged in volumes of the Collected Works to which you contribute.

Second, you are opening up a vast, enormously important historical and philosophical resource for others to access. The Bentham Papers collection is vast: UCL holds around 60,000 manuscript folios (c.30 million words) written and composed by Bentham, while the British Library has another 12,500 Bentham manuscripts (c.6 million words). As of March 2013, about 25,000 folios have been transcribed; the majority of collection is still untranscribed and their contents largely unknown, rendering our understanding of Bentham’s thought—and its significance—at best provisional, and at worst a caricature.

There is the potential for new and exciting discoveries to be made. Volunteers have already discovered manuscripts relating to Bentham’s views on the treatment of animals (including an episode from Bentham’s childhood, where he incinerated earwigs in a candle); have identified a significant, unpublished portion of Bentham’s 1802 attack on the practice of transporting convicts to Australia, Panopticon versus New South Wales; and have transcribed a series of recipes compiled by Bentham for the panopticon prison’s kitchen.

Third, your transcripts will be uploaded to UCL Library Service’s digital repository (click ‘browse collection’), opening up the Bentham collection for everyone. Your efforts will make the Bentham Papers searchable, accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world with an internet connection, and will contribute to the long-term preservation of this priceless manuscript collection.

Finally, you are proof that a partnership between academia and the public works.

For all of this, we are greatly appreciative.

Q: The manuscript window is a bit fiddly, and I’m having trouble seeing as much of it as I would like. Can anything be done?

A: This has been a common issue,, and an improved manuscript viewer is a priority in the ongoing modifications to the transcription platform. In the meantime, there is a workaround. If you right click in the white space below the Zoomify widget (but still within the frame), you’ll be presented with a small menu. Highlight ‘This frame’, then click either ‘Open frame in new window’ or ‘Open frame in new tab’, depending on your preference. You can then view the image in full screen, and zooming is much more efficient.

Q: Where can I read more about the project?

A: The Transcribe Bentham blog carries plenty of news and information about the project, as well as a weekly progress update. You can watch and listen to a number of broadcasts about the project, read numerous blogs and articles discussing Transcribe Bentham, and see a list of talks (some with video and audio) and articles by the team .

If you find yourself inspired to find out more about Bentham, you might wish to explore the Bentham Project’s freely-accessible Journal of Bentham Studies, which contains numerous articles about his life and thought. The Bentham Project website is a very useful source for all things Bentham, and even includes a ‘Virtual auto-icon‘, for those of you unable to visit Bentham’s mortal remains at UCL.

Q: Can I contact other volunteers to discuss my work and ask for help?

A: You can indeed. Transcribe Bentham has a discussion forum in which you are free to post, and you can see a list of our most experienced transcribers on the front page.

Q: Is there any other way I can help the project team out?

A: There are plenty! You can like us on Facebook, follow our Twitter feed, and generally spread the word about the project.

Q: How do I contact the project team?

A: The project email address is transcribe.bentham@ucl.ac.uk, but please note that it may take a little longer than usual to respond to your messages when UCL is closed for holidays.

Q: What’s the future got in store for Transcribe Bentham?

A: For two years from 1 October 2012, Transcribe Bentham is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This funding is allowing us to digitise more and more Bentham manuscripts, make improvements to the transcription interface, and build upon the project’s early successes. You can read about this work in a separate blog-post.

We are also participating in a European Commission-funded project, entitled tranScriptorium, led by the Universitat Politècnica de València. This project aims to produce solutions for indexing, searching, and full transcription of historical manuscripts, using Handwritten Text Recognition software. It’s well worth keeping an eye on.

Q: Blimey, Bentham’s handwriting is terrible, isn’t it?

A: Tell us about it.

However, help is at hand! We have collated a number of resources which might help in reading historical handwriting, as well as a number of examples of Bentham’s handwriting to guide you along, which we periodically add to. As with most things, an eye for Bentham’s hand comes with time and practice!

Q: You made a panopticon dessert? Really?

A: Really.

Last updated 27 March 2013.

Christmas arrangements 2011

By Tim Causer, on 9 December 2011

As everyone is more than aware, Christmas and new year are fast approaching, and with them comes UCL’s Christmas break. Bentham, as regular readers will be aware, would have disapproved of wasting potential working time on frivolities and holidays, but we at the Bentham Project take a softer line on these matters.

Volunteers should be aware that while the Transcription Desk will remain available over the holiday, it will be largely unstaffed between Thursday 21 December and Monday 9 January. We intend to release the regular Friday progress updates while UCL is closed and will endeavour to answer email queries, but please note that there may be some delay in receiving a response to messages. Transcripts submitted after 20 December will not be checked until our return, and we apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

If volunteers have any queries about these arrangements, please do contact us before the 21st.

All here at Transcribe Bentham would like to thank our transcribers and Facebook and Twitter followers for their highly valued efforts and support during the last twelve months. We couldn’t have done any of this – quite literally – without all of you. We wish everyone a very happy festive period and all the best for 2012!

Progress update, 3 December to 9 December 2011

By Tim Causer, on 9 December 2011

Welcome to the progress update for the period 3 to 9 December 2011, which has been slightly delayed today by our attendance at the very successful ‘New Directions in Bentham Studies‘ symposium, here at UCL.

The past week has again proved busy, and in case you missed it, here is Melissa Terras’s blog from the Digital Strategies for Heritage conference in Rotterdam, where she gave a paper on Transcribe Bentham and presented the project to the assembled delegates after its nomination in the 2011 Digital Heritage Award.

2,343 manuscripts have now been transcribed, an increase of 43 on last week’s total. Of these, 2,084 (88%) are complete and have been locked to prevent further editing.

The state of progress for each box of material is as follows:

  • Box 2: 251 manuscripts transcribed of 532 (47%)
  • Box 27: 238 of 350 (68%)
  • Box 35: 226 of 439 (51%)
  • Box 50: 41 of 92 (44%)
  • Box 51: 39 of 940 (4%)
  • Box 62: 25 of 565 (4%)
  • Box 70: 162 of 250 (46%)
  • Box 71: 277 of 665 (41%)
  • Box 72: 124 of 664 (18%)
  • Box 73: 119 of 156 (76%)
  • Box 79: 71 of 199 (35%)
  • Box 95: 44 of 147 (30%)
  • Box 96: 442 of 539 (82%)
  • Box 97: 16 of 288 (5%)
  • Box 115: 230 of 307 (74%)
  • Box 139: 38 of 38 (100%)
  • Overall: 41% of the 5,580 manuscripts uploaded to the website have been transcribed thus far.

Boxes 2 and 96 saw the most transcription this week, with the latter continuing its headlong rush towards completion!

Warmest thanks, as always, to all volunteers who have given their valuable time and effort during the last seven days. It remains enormously appreciated by all of the Transcribe Bentham team and, no doubt, anyone wishes to search the collection.