My citizen archive experience turned out to be two parts interesting and one part frustrating. The website itself proved well-organized, withe clearly delineated sections and a plethora of subjects that you could gather metadata for. I chose to transcribe an Enemy Alien Registration form from World War I, one of the featured projects in commemoration of the United States entrance into the war.
First, the transcription software allowed for tagging and comments as well as the transcribing process. I really appreciated how welcoming it was. You could work on all three things at once and read from other’s comments and suggestions. The forms I chose didn’t have any tags save one, and no comments or transcriptions. I appreciated the ease of transcribing with the Citizen Archives tools, I ran into several minor problems.
One problem I ran into was the images of the forms. While the software allowed for zooming in, it wasn’t as controlled as I wished it could be. I’d go to scroll down or up to review my transcription or fix an error, and accidentally zoom out of the image! The controls weren’t too clear. Also, the transcription word box did not allow for formatting of the text, or for adjusting the layout of the body of text. This does highlight the difficulty of trying to transfer the experience of reading the paper forms with reading a transcription. Without the formatting, the experience is fundamentally altered.
One beneficial thing to the crowd sourcing nature of this Archival Project is the comments section. It allows for discussion about the transcription and the tagging. It allows others to interpret certain things differently and discuss them. For instance, I had a bit of trouble deciphering the handwriting on the forms for the transcription. To me the cursive scribble could be an “e”, but to someone else it could be an “a” or an “o”. I may have made an error while transcribing and would benefit from the comments that bring attention to my error or even just go in and edit it.
While I only focused on the transcribing projects for now, I am excited to further explore the Citizens Archive and hope to spend some more time on it in the future.