Historically Speaking: Transcription, Collaboration, & Crowdsourcing

Last week, Forbes’ contributor Nathan Raab wrote about transcription, collaboration, and crowdsourcing for his Historically Speaking blog. I’m quoted in the piece that focuses on the ways institutions like the Smithsonian and the National Archives are “using technology to engage the public in the discovery and preservation of its own history.”

Nathan interviewed me about my role in the development of narrative strategies and understanding engagement with the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers Transcription Center. In our discussion, I highlighted

  • the potential for collaboration between institutions serving as stewards for history and culture,
  • the ways in which we are actively making knowledge more easily accessible and available for (re)use, and
  • the fantastic stories emerging around the collections, as well as the motivations transcription participants are sharing with us

Here’s my part of the discussion from the blog post:

“Technology is opening doors for people to learn and explore and create an understanding of the world around them.” said Dr. Meghan Ferriter, who consulted on the project at the Smithsonian.  “There are a lot of people doing related and overlapping projects, but nobody’s connected all of the pieces yet.”

You can already see the ball rolling.  Ferriter notes that many organizations have to start work from scratch, but the Smithsonian is working on changing that.  She tells me, “In my role as Research Associate, I am in essence creating a series of recommendations that can be used here at the Smithsonian and elsewhere.  This is… something of a strategic plan. We are aiming to share best practices around the world.”

Click through to the full article to learn more about the landscape of crowdsourced participation in transcription – that is, “Americans taking part in the discovery and preservation of American history.”