Summer of V’s: Transcribing Bentham, by Kris Grint

Kris’ slides from the Summer of V’s event.

Since 1984, the Bentham Project at University College London has been transcribing the vast collection of manuscripts of the legal philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). Over the next 26 years, 28,000 (of an estimated total of 90,000) of Bentham¹s papers had been transcribed by various legal and historical scholars – a transcription rate of about 1,000 per year. In 2010, UCL launched ‘Transcribe Bentham’, an online platform that invited the public to participate in the transcription process, and one of the first crowdsourcing projects with a humanities focus. Results have been remarkable. By 2013, the transcription rate had increased to over 2,000 per year. By early 2015, the rate was running at 4,500 per year. At this rate, a scholarly project originally envisioned to take another 69 years is now likely to be completed within the next two decades. In this paper, I discuss the secrets to Transcribe Bentham¹s success, the issues it currently faces, and how it has exposed Bentham scholarship to a raft of new disciplines, such as digital humanities and computer science.

Slides (ppt)