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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Scripto: Crowdsourcing Documentary Transcription




Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media


Innovative | Experimental


There has been a substantial interest in implementing systems for crowdsourcing the transcription of documents in cultural heritage collections. We have seen substantial successes in projects like Transcribe Bentham, NYPL’s What’s on the Menu and San Diego Natural History Museum's Laurence Klauber Field Notes. Scriptio is an exciting development toward making these kinds of innovative ideas into something that can be replicated and implemented via a easy-to-use open source software tool.

Briefly, Scripto is a lightweight, open source tool that allows users to contribute transcriptions to online cultural heritage collections.  The software includes a versioning history and full set of editorial controls, so that project staff can manage public contributions. Scripto is not a CMS. Scripto is not a GUI. Scripto is a PHP library powered by wiki technology that developers can use to integrate a custom transcription GUI into an existing CMS. You provide the CMS and GUI; Scripto provides the engine for crowdsourcing the transcription of your content.

The two screen shots show the Scripto homepage, where anyone can download the open source software, and an example of how Scripto has been implemented in the Papers of the War Department digital collection. You can see from the Papers of the War Department implementation that Scripto has created a seamless user experience in bridging the strengths of two open source software packages. The easy-to-use interface and collection display capabilities with of Omeka with the versioning and editing capabilities of media wiki.

This project is a particularly compelling addition to the social media category as it is a clear first step to making it easy for smaller organizations to run and manage this kind of direct interaction with the public. 

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