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April 30, 2012

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All Souls’ Archive Crowd-sourcing Experiment: Can You Help Us Out?

by quaesitor
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What makes a good archive or library? Well, as I’ve written elsewhere, I think there are at least 3 key ingredients.

  • Excellent, unique and desirable content
  • Well ordered and easily retrievable resources
  • Intuitive and straightforward search processes.
Well, we’re seeking to harness the good will of the global Christian online community to partner with us at All Souls. Will you help us out?
Over 12 years ago, the All Souls church council took the brave step (at a time when the vast majority of churches were charging) to make the entire archive available for free. This led to a considerable loss of income that had come from the sale of tapes and then CDs (and helped pay for one salaried position). But it was felt to be the right thing to do as a resource for the global church and I’m so glad they did. The result is that there are talks going back to the 1960s, when John Stott was still Rector, and is being added to all the time. Now, all sunday and midweek talks are available as routine on the website (as well as via podcast).

But the archive is only useful if you know exactly what you are looking for. Perhaps there’s a talk from a particular date you remember, or you want something from a particular speaker, or you know the biblical text you want to study. So far so good – most archives are fine for this. But supposing you don’t really know what you want other than you need something on a general topic. I don’t know of (m)any large archives out there which can help.
With over 3600 sermons to tag with search terms, the job would be prohibitively time-consuming … unless we crowd-sourced it. If we had 3000 volunteer to add tags to 10 talks each we’d be there in no time. So if you’re interested in helping us out, do find out more here on our website. This is all part of the second phase of our major redevelopment of the All Souls site (and it coincides with complete open access to the archive – you no longer have to sign up with an email address).
If you do, not only will you help us and many other 1000s around the world who use the archive, you’ll hopefully actually get some benefit from listening to the talks as well!!
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