University College, London, possesses some 60,000 documents created by Jeremy Bentham, the great utilitarian philosopher. (It also owns and displays Bentham's mummified body, delightfully referred to as the "Auto-Icon," but that's a well-worn tale.) But only a fraction of those documents have been transcribed or published.
This week, UCL launched the "Transcribe Bentham" project, in which the university seeks to "harness the effort of all Bentham fans--whether schoolchildren, historian enthusiasts, retired academics or armchair philosophers--to bring his work into the digital age and the world at large."
Over the next year, the university will be posting images of Bentham's writings, beginning with fairly straightforward ones and proceeding in difficulty to the all-but-indecipherable. The interface will be a wiki that allows users to comment on and correct the contributions of others. The university claims that this is the first instance of crowdsourced scholarly transcription on this scale.
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