Engaging with popular print online

The project “Engaging with early modern popular print online,” funded by the John Fell OUP Research Fund is investigating new ways of making the content of the Bodleian’s broadside ballads collections available to users. At present the black and white scans of ballad sheets are linked to a searchable database at: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/

The first of two workshops scheduled in the project was held in June 25, 2011, at Merton College. The task of this workshop was to gather expertise in the crowdsourcing of transcriptions and user-generated content, and to comment on how the broadside ballads in the Bodleian’s online database might be enhanced by user-created transcriptions.

Organized by Dr. Giles Bergel, JPR Lyell Research Fellow in the History of the Book, the day was attended by 20 academics, librarians and IT and research staff.
The questions Dr. Bergel posed to the workshop were:

1) Whether, if one outsources a particular area of intellectual enquiry, one also outsources responsibility for the outcome of that enquiry.
2) The issue of how contributors behave in the context of a crowd-sourcing project.

Presentations to the workshop were made with reference to projects that currently solicit crowdsourced descriptions: the Galaxy Zoo and Old Weather projects (via a podcast by Dr Arfon Smith of Zooniverse) and the What’s the ScoreBodleian Library, Douce Ballads 2 f. 241v project to describe digitized musical scored at the Bodleian Library, with a presentation by the project manager, David Tomkins.