“Time travels in diverse paces”: An Update on Open Shakespeare

June 26, 2011 in Community, Musings, News, Shakespeare

May and a month that has only belatedly met the standard of what Shakespeare calls “hot Junes” have passed since last I wrote an update about Open Shakespeare. As ever, quite a bit has been done on the project, and there remains much more to do in the future.

If one word could sum up the work of May and June, it would be ‘users’. These two months have seen our online presence, especially on twitter, grow: over four hundred and twenty annotations have now been written, and we have been followed by, amongst others, a Tory MP and the artistic director of the Boston Actors’ Shakespeare Project. In order to provide a regular stream of new content for our followers, weekly articles on Shakespeare’s words have been posted over the last eight weeks, those on “dawn” and “drawer” attracting the most interest.

There is no single word with which to encompass our plans for the future. A study of how people use the website, and especially the annotator, is currently underway, the conclusions of which will soon be presented at OKCON 2011, and – if all goes well – in journal format also. One recommendation will be to establish ready-made categories for annotations, in order to make organisation of the comments much easier. Whilst studying the data, it also occurred to me that the website could be extended with the incorporation of famous past annotations, such as those comments made by Johnson and Pope when they each edited Shakespeare’s works in the eighteenth century.

Of course, we need not only incorporate the annotations of Johnson and Pope into Open Shakespeare: we could also expand Open Shakespeare to Open Literature and include their creative work too. Indeed, just such an expansion is likely to take place over the summer, and we would love to hear about any ideas people have for Open Literature: whether, for example, there is a particular (out of copyright) author you would like to see uploaded soon or whether you simply have some thoughts about the layout of it all. As ever, you can get in touch through the website, post to the open literature mailing list, or best of all, add to the new Open Literature Wiki.

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