Open Shakespeare at OKCON

April 27, 2010 in Community, Musings, News, Texts

Last weekend was OKCON, and I delivered a 15 minute introduction to Open Shakespeare there. Little of what I said was new, and the real interest for me came from the discussions I had with other conference-goers during the day. A few of these discussions, and one or two presentations, have given me a several ideas for Open Shakespeare, which I shall outline briefly here.

Sören Auer, speaking on ‘Linked Open Data’, mentioned the beneficial effect that a ‘pingback’ service had provided to the blogosphere, helping to foster conversations and build networks of opinion. This made me wonder at the benefit such a tracking service would have for Open Shakespeare: if you were told when text you had annotated was annotated by someone else, you would have the chance to both share in the new contribution as well as discuss it. The system could also cover the critical introductions and would foster a more personal involvement in the site, which can only be a good thing. There is one downside: such ‘pingback’ services are vulnerable to spam, and Sören Auer was unable to sketch out a suitable response to this threat.

Tom Morris gave a presentation on ‘Citizendium’, whose modus operandi may have something to teach us when it comes to the writing of critical introductions. On Citizendium there is a fixed front article, behind which is a more fluid draft text. Such an arrangement allows both a space for rapid alterations and heated discussion at the same time as it protects the front matter from too extreme a modification, well-meaning or otherwise.

Away from the presentation, I had long discussions about printing the Open Shakespeare Editions with Ben O’Steen. One suggestion was that the problem of incorporating the annotations into the printed text could be solved with a script similar to that which converts blog comment into a printable format. Whatever the solution, some kind of tagging and annotation management system would probably be a prerequisite.

The last idea to come from OKCON (so far…) concerned widening the audience for Open Shakespeare. Several people recommended that we try and get school children involved, since the website could be a useful teaching tool, and encourage a new engagement with Shakespeare. Again, one hesitates to open the website to such a large audience without more means of managing annotations in place…but, still, a trial with just one class and one scene of a play seems to me something we could try right away…

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