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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Measure and transcribe a papyrus from your desktop


It used to be a great aspiration to have ancient papyri and codices on view to all by being photographed and displayed on the internet. That aspiration has been superseded by the The Oxyrhynchus Project: Desktop Papyrology which is trying to get transcriptions available for papyri which were discovered over a century ago, and, in many cases, remain unedited.

One of the powerful elements of the project (to be found at the Ancient Lives website) is crowd-sourcing. You may not be able to recognise all of the letters and you might get some wrong, but with enough people working on the project, the combined work could be a great way of making transcriptions available far more quickly than by individual labour.

Some may pooh-pooh the idea, insisting on the necessity of individual scholars checking the work of all these amateur enthusiasts. The great thing is - the two are not mutually exclusive. You can have amateurs do the donkey work and experts check it.

If you are Catholic, think of the Catholic Encyclopaedia that we now take for granted as a reliable source on the internet. I remember when New Advent put out its invitation to people to scan or type in pages. If you use it, bear in mind that you are benefiting from crowd-sourcing.

H/T Big Pulpit
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