Digitise!

digitiseWe are pre-launching a crowdsourcing initiative to scan, OCR, clean and proofread large corpuses of texts from the Humanities and the Social Sciences. We hope to get YOU – whether student, scholar, professor (active or retired) or enthusiastic layman – to help us with this huge but essential task. We are kicking off the project with a small pilot: our first objective is to digitise the complete works of the great phenomenologist Max Scheler. If successful, the next target will be the digitisation of the full corpus of early phenomenology. Learn more and join the project!

What’s this all about?

One of the first and biggest tasks facing sdvig press is the digitisation in a very high, error-free quality of very significant amounts of texts. Even with performant OCR software, it takes us about 30 hours to obtain a fully satisfying digitised version of a monograph (250-300 pages). At this rate, it will take years if not decades to digitise a satisfactory number of texts, even if we find the money to pay some poor souls to do this full time. If, on the other hand, we can mobilise several hundreds of volunteers to give us a helping hand, we could have full corpuses ready by the end of 2014!

Aren’t Google and the DPLA already doing this?

Yes, impressive digitisation efforts are being undertaken by Google, the DPLA and libraries such as the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Austrian National Library, etc. As such we will probably initiate collaborations with some of these partners in the future. At this point in time, though, none of them offers a satisfactory answer to our digitisation needs, mainly for the following reasons:

–  They often do not allow free use or access to their texts

–  Their digitised texts have not been cleaned and are  full of errors

–  Many of the texts most relevant to us have not been digitised

Why should you get involved?

As a student or a researcher, have you ever spent hours scanning or copying a book that you weren‘t allowed to borrow from the university library? Spent days trying to find a reference you forgot to note down properly? Spent weeks waiting for the single copy of a book to become available again? Have to pay to get a book shipped from a library at the other end of the country? Well, all these inconveniences will be a thing of the past once all or most of the texts relevant to your field of study have been digitised. You won’t even need to go the library, they will all be at hand on your PC or your mobile phone. Give us ten hours of your time, we’ll save you hundreds!

Why should you help sdvig press?

sdvig press will guarantee contractually that all the texts digitised through its Digitise! initiative will be made fully available in open access on its platform before they are exploited in any other way.  Even better, we will license the digitised texts under CC-BY at the latest 2 years after their publication on our website, meaning they will be freely available and exploitable by anybody. That 2 year delay, by the way, is not meant to restrict access, but to give us time to prepare commented print editions. Best of all, we are developping software to enable advance search, dynamic visualisations and text-mining on the digitised texts. In other words, you should help us because we are doing this for you!

How will it work?

Simple. First you must register on the sdvig press website (registrations are not open at this time). This will give you access to a list of titles that we will have prepared (broken down into single chapters or articles). By clicking on the titles, you will be able to download or upload a document and perform actions such as scanning, cleaning OCR or proofreading a cleaned copy. Once all the subparts of a text have been scanned, cleaned and proofread, we’ll put it up on the sdvig website. Still confused? We’ll explain the detailled workflows and have someone on hand  to help when the project starts in earnest!

How do you join?

You can’t officially register yet, but you can obtain regular information and already show your support for the initiative by following Digitise! on Twitter (@sdvigdigitise). We’ll let you know as soon as we launch the pilot.

Share the word!

Before the pilot even gets going we are looking to gather support both to test the waters and to have as many people as possible on board when we start. We are also applying for grants, so your support is more than welcome! Get the word out by sharing our Facebook page and tweeting about us!

 

Any other questions? Write to us at digitise@sdvigpress.org on Twitter @sdvigpress.


1 thought on “Digitise!

  1. Update: We are in the process of integrating the digitise! module more tightly into the sdvig platform, in order to allow users to download and upload corrected texts directly from our repository. We will accompany this with an additional module which will allow users to submit entries (basically the text metadata) to the database. These inputs will be moderated for quality and consistency.
    The whole point is to make the whole process more flexible for users, who now can only work on the very few texts we’ve added in the digitise! interface (www.sdvigpress.org/digitise)
    The feedback we’ve had on the project so far is indeed that people want to contribute the texts that interests them and that they happen to have at hand – not a clearly defined set of texts. What has happened is that we’ve received quite a few random pdfs by email, but very little contributions to the Scheler texts on the website.

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