I’m working on a piece of software for collaborative manuscript transcription and annotation. That’s a bit of a mouthful, but what it boils down is this: I’ve got temporary access to several family documents which I am trying to transcribe and distribute. Being a software engineer by trade, it seems to me that the easiest way to do this is to write a system that allows me and other volunteers to write down, annotate, proofread and print the page images I’ve scanned. This would allow those of us who are more comfortable with the technology (or are perhaps merely quicker typists) to do the bulk of the complex work, while other (older) volunteers with more context for the manuscripts make interpretive decisions about names and events.
My proximate goal is for the online system allow wiki-like hyperlinking to (at minimum) proper names, which — when backed by a relational database — would completely automate creation of indices in a “final” printed copy. I’d also like to allow the reader/printer to choose whether to preserve original line-breaks and/or spelling, mark sections of text as sensitive (so that they would not be visible to the general public), and include images of illegible text to appear in print versions as footnotes.
My eventual goal is to release the system as (possibly) Open Source and open up fee-based hosting on my own servers to fund whatever hosting bills my own project incurs. The grandiose vision is to try to get people in the family history community to direct their efforts into making primary texts accessible to the public.