I received a question about transcribing and proofreading texts. Personally, I am currently proofreading the Pericla Navarchi Magonis by Arcadius Avellanus. But it made me think about the subject as such.
First of all, why creating a transcription in the first place? Isn't it enough to simply scan the books and make them available for download? My answer to that is a resounding No! PDF-versions do not lend themselves to reading on anything but big-screen devices (mostly desktop PCs or notebooks). Screens even as big as that of Amazon's Kindle are far too small, mobile phones can be ignored in this context due to their minute size. I use an e-reader with a 9.7" screen but even that is not always enough (partly due to resolution, partly due to multi-layer PDFs causing trouble). A transcribed version, on the contrary, can be read on all devices without needing any special programme or application.
Code: Select all
Transcribing (I did my past such projects from scratch, the current one I do based on an OCRd text with quite a few errors left) and proofreading is a rather time-consuming business when doing it completely on one's own. It also requires quite a bit of concentration because our brain is very good at ignoring errors and supplying the correct word without us being conscious of it.
Should you decide to start a transcribing and proofreading-project on your own, I would suggest that you begin with a smaller text and "upgrade" to a larger challenge once you are comfortable with that.
Ideally, however, the text to be proofread would already be hosted by Distributed Proofreaders which allows proofreading by many people and creates e-texts for Project Gutenberg. That way, everyone could invest exactly that amount of time and effort he/she is comfortable with (even if it is only proofreading a single page).
Therefore, one way to contribute (and in my opinion this would be a major contribution) other than transcribing or proofreading would be to initiate/manage a proofreading-project at Distributed Proofreaders (DP). The procedures are covered there as follows: Content Provider's FAQ, Project Manager's Guide.
This is not my way to do it (I favour the full-blown lone wolf frontal assault kind of approach), but it certainly would allow many people to contribute their time and effort at exactly the rate they want to. In addition the proofreading project would not depend upon specific proofreaders (the manager would be essential, at least in the first stages). Since the DP-site is well-established one need not fear that the project suddenly goes down the drain due to someone losing interest in maintaining the site as such, etc.
Should anyone of you want to contribute in transcribing and proofreading, there is more than one way to do so. Important: the text needs to be in the public domain, and it is my personal belief that Project Gutenberg is the ideal haven for the resulting texts.
When deciding upon the text to be transcribed and proofread I recommend thinking about it several times. If you are doing this on your own you will spend quite a bit of time with it, so it ought to motivate you. And if you are doing it in a distributed version, one should still be aware of the limited amount of proofreading-capacity of people able to read Latin. Even Distributed Proofreading will not allow many Latin e-books to be created. Careful consideration is therefore required. I am not going into more detail here because tastes differ. I do, however, say that the Latin community does not need more Latin grammars. Personally I believe that the choice of grammar is of minor consequence. Far more important is to read as much as possible. What we need is e-texts of Latin books. However, we do not need texts from classical authors either as these can be found at the Latin Libary (although proofread versions for Gutenberg.org wouldn't hurt either).
That is why I chose to transcribe the Mysterium Arcae Boulé (and am transcribing the the Pericla Navarchi Magonis). That is Latin which is alive and kicking (although some may criticize that the Latin used is not classical, but to each his/her own).
Addendum: if you look for PDFs of scanned books, then head over to the Analytic Bibliography of On-line Neo-Latin Texts. That should keep you busy for the next few lifetimes.