Transcription-based projects quickly rose to be one of the most popular manifestations of participatory archives. European archives developed new transcription platforms, conducted pilot tests, and subsequently expanded offerings to a wide range of projects. Unfortunately, many of these innovations went unseen by English-speaking practitioners and scholars as they were conducted in the local vernacular. This chapter highlights participatory transcription activities at two institutions, Amsterdam City Archives and Copenhagen City Archives.
The first case study describes the development of the VeleHanden trans - cription platform – a co-operative effort between Amsterdam City Archives and software developer Picturae. Through its testing and imple mentation, the VeleHanden system helped Amsterdam City Archives develop a set of participatory engagement principles to encourage high-quality participation in future projects. Additional analysis discusses participants’ shared characteristics and possible future developments of the software.
The second case study describes the lessons learned from Copenhagen City Archives’ initial participatory transcription project, which – like VeleHanden – started in 2010. The case focuses on the way this experience fed into subsequent projects, primarily as regards to motivating factors and mana - gerial and organisational aspects of working with highly dedicated participants.
The history and development of Dutch crowdsourcing platform VeleHanden.nl
Meet the Amsterdam City Archives, housing over 50 kilometres of archival material in an impressive building from the 1920s called De Bazel in the heart of the city centre. Amsterdam City Archives seeks to inspire and innovate online: our first website was launched in 1998, an image database in 2003, a scan-on-demand service started in 2005, and by mid-2018 we reached the milestone of having 30 million images online.
These digital developments were all demand-driven. We listened to our users carefully and tried to respond to their requests or needs. But as more and more digitised material became available, these needs became harder to interpret. Users made remarks like ‘I cannot find what I am looking for’ or ‘it is too difficult’. After a while, we realised that in a world where Google reigns, they expected to fill out a name or address in a search box and get their questions answered within the blink of an eye.