Today I’m at the Cataloguing and Indexing Group Scotland event – their 7th Metadata & Web 2.0 event –Â Somewhere over the Rainbow: our metadata online, past, present & future.
Paul Cunnea, CIGS Chair is introducing the day noting that this is the 10th year of these events: we don’t have one every year but we thought we’d return to our Wizard of Oz theme.
On a practical note, Paul notes that if we have a fire alarm today we’d normally assemble outside St Giles Cathedral but as they are filming The Avengers today, we’ll be assemblingÂ elsewhere!
There is also a cupcake competition today – expect many baked goods to appear on the hashtag for the day #cigsweb2. The winner takes home a copy of Managing Metadata in Web-scale Discovery Systems / edited by Louise F Spiteri. London : Facet Publishing, 2016 (list price Â£55).
Engaging the crowd: old hands, modern minds. Evolving an on-line manuscript transcription project / Steve Rigden with Ines Byrne (not here today) (National Library of Scotland)
Ines has led the development of our crowdsourcing side. My role has been on the manuscripts side. Any transcription is about discovery. For the manuscripts team we have to prioritise digitisation so that we can deliver digital surrogates that enable access, and to open up access. Transcription hugely opens up texts but it is time consuming and that time may be better spent on other digitisation tasks.
OCR has issues but works relatively well for printed texts. Manuscripts are a different matter – handwriting, ink density, paper, all vary wildly. The REED(?) project is looking at what may be possible but until something better comes along we rely on human effort. Generally the manuscript team do not undertake manual transcription, but do so for special exhibitions or very high priority items. We also have the challenge that so much of our material is still under copyright so cannot be done remotely (but can be accessed on site). The expected user community generally can be expected to have the skill to read the manuscript – so a digital surrogate replicates that experience. That being said, new possibilities shape expectations. So we need to explore possibilities for transcription – and that’s where crowd sourcing comes in.
Crowd sourcing can resolve transcription, but issues with copyright and data protection still have to be resolved. It has taken time to select suitable candidates for transcription. In developing this transcription project we looked to other projects – like Transcribe Bentham which was highly specialised, through to projects with much broader audiences. We also looked at transcription undertaken for the John Murray Archive, aimed at non specialists.
The selection criteria we decided upon was for:
- Hands that are not too troublesome.
- Manuscripts that have not been re-worked excessively with scoring through, corrections and additions.
- Documents that are structurally simple – no tables or columns for example where more complex mark-up (tagging) would be required.
- Subject areas with broad appeal: genealogies, recipe book (in the old crafts of all kinds sense), mountaineering.
Based on our previous John Murray Archive work we also want the crowd to provide us with structure text, so that it can be easily used, by tagging the text. That’s an approach that is borrowed from Transcribe Bentham, but we want our community to be self-correcting rather than doing QA of everything going through. If something is marked as finalised and completed, it will be released with the tool to a wider public – otherwise it is only available within the tool.
The approach could be summed up as keep it simple – and that requires feedback to ensure it really is simple (something we did through a survey). We did user testing on our tool, it particularly confirmed that users just want to go in, use it, and make it intuitive – that’s a problem with transcription and mark up so there are challenges in making that usable. We have a great team who are creative and have come up with solutions for us… But meanwhile other project have emerged. If the REED project is successful in getting machines to read manuscripts then perhaps these tools will become redundant. Right now there is nothing out there or in scope for transcribing manuscripts at scale.
So, lets take a look at Transcribe NLS…
You have to login to use the system. That’s mainly to help restrict the appeal to potential malicious or erroneous data. Once you log into the tool you can browse manuscripts, you can also filter by the completeness of the transcription, the grade of the transcription – we ummed and ahhed about including that but we though it was important to include.
Once you pick a text you click the button to begin transcribing – you can enter text, special characters, etc. You can indicate if text is above/below the line. You can mark up where the figure is. You can tag whether the text is not in English. You can mark up gaps. You can mark that an area is a table. And you can also insert special characters.Â It’s all quite straight forward.
Q1) Do you pick the transcribers, or do they pick you?
A1) Anyone can take part but they have to sign up. And they can indicate a query – which comes to our team. We do want to engage with people… As the project evolves we are looking at the resources required to monitor the tool.
Q2) It’s interesting what you were saying about copyright…
A2) The issues of copyright here is about sharing off site. A lot of our manuscripts are unpublished. We use exceptions such as the 1956 Copyright Act for old works whose authors had died. The selection process has been difficult, working out what can go in there. We’ve also cheated a wee bit
Q3) What has the uptake of this been like?
A3) The tool is not yet live. We thin it will build quite quickly – people like a challenge. Transcription is quite addictive.
Q4) Are there enough people with palaeography skills?
A4) I think that most of the content is C19th, where handwriting is the main challenge. For much older materials we’d hit that concern and would need to think about how best to do that.
Q5) You are creating these documents that people are reading. What is your plan for archiving these.
A5) We do have a colleague considering and looking at digital preservation – longer term storage being more the challenge. As part of normal digital preservation scheme.
Q6) Are you going for a Project Gutenberg model? Or have you spoken to them?
A6) It’s all very localised right now, just seeing what happens and what uptake looks like.
Q7) How will this move back into the catalogue?
A7) Totally manual for now. It has been the source of discussion. There was discussion of pushing things through automatically once transcribed to a particular level but we are quite cautious and we want to see what the results start to look like.
Q8) What about tagging with TEI? Is this tool a subset of that?
A8) There was a John Murray Archive, including mark up and tagging. There was a handbook for that. TEI is huge but there is also TEI Light – the JMA used a subset of the latter. I would say this approach – that subset of TEI Light – is essentially TEI Very Light.
Q9) Have other places used similar approaches?
A9) TRanscribe Bentham is similar in terms of tagging. The University of Iowa Civil War Archive has also had a similar transcription and tagging approach.
Q10) The metadata behind this – how significant is that work?
A10) We have basic metadata for these. We have items in our digital object database and simple metadata goes in there – we don’t replicate the catalogue record but ensure it is identifiable, log date of creation, etc. And this transcription tool is intentionally very basic at th emoment.
Coming up later…
Can web archiving the Olympics be an international team effort? Running the Rio Olympics and Paralympics project / Helena Byrne (British Library)
Managing metadata from the present will be explored by Helena Byrne from the British Library, as she describes the global co-ordination of metadata required for harvesting websites for the 2016 Olympics, as part of the International Internet Preservation Consortiumâ€™s Rio 2016 web archiving project
Statistical Accounts of Scotland / Vivienne Mayo (EDINA)
Vivienne Mayo from EDINA describes how information from the past has found a new lease of life in the recently re-launched Statistical Accounts of Scotland
Beyond bibliographic description: emotional metadata on YouTube / Diane Pennington (University of Strathclyde)
Diane Pennington of Strathclyde University will move beyond the bounds of bibliographic description as she discusses her research about emotions shared by music fans online and how they might be used as metadata for new approaches to search and retrieval
Our 5Rights: digital rights of children and young people / Dev Kornish, Dan Dickson, Bethany Wilson (5Rights Youth Commission)
Young Scot, Scottish Government and 5Rights introduce Scotland’s 5Rights Youth Commission – a diverse group of young people passionate about their digital rights. We will hear from Dan and Bethany what their ‘5Rights’ mean to them, and how children and young people can be empowered to access technology, knowledgeably, and fearlessly.
Playing with metadata / Gavin Willshaw and Scott Renton (University of Edinburgh)
Learn about Edinburgh University Libraryâ€™s metadata games platform, a crowdsourcing initiative which has improved descriptive metadata and become a vital engagement tool both within and beyond the library. Hear how they have developed their games in collaboration with Tiltfactor, a Dartmouth College-based research group which explores game design for social change, and learn what theyâ€™re doing with crowd-sourced data. There may even be time for you to set a new high scoreâ€¦
Managing your Digital Footprint : Taking control of the metadata and tracks and traces that define us online / Nicola Osborne (EDINA)
Find out how personal metadata, social media posts, and online activity make up an individual’s “Digital Footprint”, why they matter, and hear some advice on how to better manage digital tracks and traces. Nicola will draw on recent University of Edinburgh research on students’ digital footprints which is also the subject of the new #DFMOOC free online course.
Sticking with the game theme, we will be running a small competition on the day, involving cupcakes, book tokens and tweets â€“ come to the event to find out more! You may be lucky enough to win a copy of Managing Metadata in Web-scale Discovery Systems / edited by Louise F Spiteri. London : Facet Publishing, 2016 â€“ list price Â£55! What more could you ask for as a prize?
The ticket price includes refreshments and a light buffet lunch.
We look forward to seeing you in April!