Our system promises to digitize all of the handwritten records held in public and private archives without major investments and with ever-improving accuracy. To date, only a small percentage of the world’s historical written records have been tapped into to contribute to mankind’s knowledge of our past. Since written records of our past are by definition finite, we propose to implement a mechanism that promises to capture – once and for all – the entirety of the written records that our ancestors left behind. We propose to develop an emergent system architecture that will systematically create, without duplications and overlaps, a cumulative electronic repository of digital transcriptions of the written records from our past, to be shared, searched and analyzed to shed light on the history of humanity.

Significance to Historians

Thanks to uScript, historical research will be greatly expedited. Printed books are by now more numerous than manuscripts, but the latter hide some of the more arcane and revealing secrets of the past. Individual documents may seem relatively unimportant, documenting day-to-day affairs such as birth and death records, police reports, and other local events. However, when collections of these manuscripts are taken as a whole, they can provide a clear and insightful perspective on the histories of entire civilizations.

The system we propose will be the first to allow the distributed transcription of manuscripts, based on proven web crowdsourcing techniques that have been successful in many other Internet endeavors. By leveraging the expertise of historians and guaranteeing that their transcription efforts are retained for future use, we will usher this decidedly “low-tech” field into the age of Internet connectivity, where the collective wisdom, knowledge and abilities of people everywhere can be used towards productive ends.

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