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Success in Inventare il Futuro Competition

James Harriman-Smith - November 8, 2011 in Community, Essay, News, Publicity, Technical, Texts

By James Harriman-Smith and Primavera De Filippi

On the 11th July, the Open Literature (now Open Humanities) mailing list got an email about a competition being run by the University of Bologna called ‘Inventare il Futuro’ or ‘Inventing the Future’. On the 28th October, Hvaing submitted an application on behalf of the OKF, we got an email saying that our idea had won us €3 500 of funding. Here’s how.

The Idea: Open Reading

The competition was looking for “innovative ideas involving new technologies which could contribute to improving the quality of civil and social life, helping to overcome problems linked to people’s lives.” Our proposal, entered into the ‘Cultural and Artistic Heritage’ category, proposed joining the OKF’s Public Domain Calculators and Annotator together, creating a site that allowed users more interaction with public domain texts, and those texts a greater status online. To quote from our finished application:

Combined, the annotator and the public domain calculators will power a website on which users will be able to find any public domain literary text in their jurisdiction, and either download it in a variety of formats or read it in the environment of the website. If they chose the latter option, readers will have the opportunity of searching, annotating and anthologising each text, creating their own personal response to their cultural literary heritage, which they can then share with others, both through the website and as an exportable text document.


As you can see, with thirty thousand Euros for the overall winner, we decided to think very big. The full text, including a roadmap is available online. Many thanks to Jason Kitkat and Thomas Kandler who gave up their time to proofread and suggest improvements.

The Winnings: Funding Improvements to OKF Services

The first step towards Open Reading was always to improve the two services it proposed marrying: the Annotator and the Public Domain Calculators. With this in mind we intend to use our winnings to help achieve the following goals, although more ideas are always welcome:

  • Offer bounties for flow charts regarding the public domain in as yet unexamined jurisdictions.
  • Contribute, perhaps, to the bounties already available for implementing flowcharts into code.
  • Offer mini-rewards for the identification and assessment of new metadata databases.
  • Modify the annotator store back-end to allow collections.
  • Make the importation and exportation of annotations easier.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if any of this is of interest. An Open Humanities Skype meeting will be held on 20th November 2011 at 3pm GMT.

Shakespeare and the Internet

James Harriman-Smith - September 5, 2011 in Community, Essay, News, Publicity

From Monday 12th September to Monday 10th October, Open Shakespeare will host a series of articles on the topic of ‘Shakespeare and the Internet’. When we invited contributions, the theme was deliberately kept as broad as possible in order to facilitate a wide and diverse range of responses from each of those who have written a post for us. Our contributors range from teachers and students of Shakespeare to an experimental theatre company.

Having already read the majority of the contributions, I can say now that the series fulfils its goal of offering what the Bard would call a “multitudinous” range of approaches to the topic of Shakespeare and the Internet; subjects range from why Polonius would appreciate hypertext to the problems and opportunities of online abundance. Please feel free to make use of the comments section at the bottom of each article, and to carry on in this space the points for debate that each article raises. The contributions will appear in the following order:

Every article in this series is published under a Creative Commons 3.0 SA BY licence, meaning that it is free to redistribute and reuse, providing that you attribute it to its author (BY) and that you share-alike. As with all the other material on Open Shakespeare, we hope that publication under such a licence will encourage the diffusion and development of our contributors’ ideas.

My thanks to all those who have contributed their time and thoughts to this project, particularly Erin Weinberg, whose proof-reading skills have been extremely useful in the preparation of these pieces for publication. Depending on the success of this series, we intend to publish similar, themed posts under an open licence in the future: if you would like to participate as either a writer or an editor, please get in touch through the usual channels.

Now, to conclude, I leave you, I hope, in approximately the same state of anticipation as Leonato leaves an impatient Claudio in Much Ado about Nothing:

> till Monday [...] which is hence a just seven-night; and a time too brief too, to have all things answer my mind.

Text Camp 2011

James Harriman-Smith - August 8, 2011 in Community, News, Publicity

The Open Knowledge Foundation’s first ever Text Camp will be taking place this Saturday 13th August, thanks to JISC offering us the use of their meeting rooms in London.

Details

  • Where? Brettenham House, 9 Savoy Street, WC2E 7EG, London. – Meet outside ‘The Savoy Tup’ Pub, Savoy Street, at 10am to be guided to the venue.
  • When? Saturday 13th August, 10am – 6pm
  • What?A gathering for all those interested in the relation between technology and literature, with a specal focus on the creation of open knowledge.
  • More details: http://wiki.openliterature.net/Text_Camp_2011
  • Order (free) tickets: http://textcamp2011.eventbrite.com/
  • Twitter: #tcamp11

Hope you can make it!

Annotation Sprint III

James Harriman-Smith - July 12, 2011 in News, Publicity, Shakespeare

Date: Thursday 14th July

Time: 9am to 5pm BST

(thus UTC 8am-4pm, EDT 4am-12 noon, PDT 1am-9am)

You can also follow us online using the hashtag #annotation or make suggestions on the Open Literature etherpad.

How to Participate

Step 0: Check your browser

To participate in the annotation sprint, you will need a recent version of Firefox or Chrome or Safari.

Step One: Login to Open Shakespeare [optional]

[optional]: you don’t need to login — but if you don’t your contributions will be anonymous.

To login you’ll need to obtain an OpenID if you don’t have one. Here’s how:

  1. Visit https://www.myopenid.com/

  2. Click on the button ‘Sign up for an OpenID’

  3. Follow their instructions to create an OpenID by which you will be known when annotating

Now you’ve got an OpenID you can login:

  1. Go to our login page

  2. Click on the ‘OpenID’ button

  3. Copy and paste, or type out your OpenID, which looks like a web address

Step Two: Start Annotating!

  1. Go to Hamlet

  2. All the instructions are written on the side of the page in the ‘Annotation: Howto’ column

Announcing…Annotation Sprint II

openliterature - February 26, 2011 in Community, News, Publicity

Change Criticism Forever – Participate in the next Open Shakespeare Annotation Sprint

Our modus operandi is the same as ever: all the instructions are here.

Following on from the first annotation sprint, we will be annotating Hamlet

On Saturday 19th March we’re holding the second Open Shakespeare Annotation Sprint — participate and help change criticism forever! We’ll be getting together online and in-person to collaborate on critically annotating a complete Shakespeare play with all our work being open.

All of Shakespeare’s texts are, of course, in the public domain, and therefore already open. However, most editions of Shakespeare that people actually use (and purchase) are ‘critical’ editions, that is texts together with notes and annotations that explain or analyze the text, and, for these critical editions no open version yet exists. On the 19th March we will continue to change all that!

Using the annotator tool we now have a way to work collaboratively online to add and develop these ‘critical’ additions and the aim of the sprint is to fully annotate one complete play. Anyone can get involved, from lay-Shakespeare-lover to English professor, all you’ll need is a web-browser and an interest in the Bard!

Using specially-designed annotation software we intend to print an edition of Shakespeare unlike any other, incorporating glosses, textual notes and other information written by anyone able to connect to the website.

Work begins with a full-day annotation sprint on Saturday 19th March, which will take online as well as at in-person meetups. Anyone can organize a meetup and we’re organizing one in Cambridge, England – more details forthcoming (if you’d like to hold your own please just add it to the etherpad linked above).

How to Participate in the Annotation Sprint

openliterature - February 5, 2011 in Community, Publicity, Technical

The votes are in! We are annotating Hamlet

Until 11:30am you can: Vote for the play to be annotated

Any feedback, or thoughts? Use the etherpad to leave your thoughts about the event.

How to Participate

Step 0: Check your browser

To participate in the annotation sprint, you will need a recent version of Firefox or Chrome or Safari.

Step One: Login to Open Shakespeare [optional]

[optional]: you don’t need to login — but if you don’t your contributions will be anonymous.

To login you’ll need to obtain an OpenID if you don’t have one. Here’s how:

  1. Visit https://www.myopenid.com/

  2. Click on the button ‘Sign up for an OpenID’

  3. Follow their instructions to create an OpenID by which you will be known when annotating

Now you’ve got an OpenID you can login:

  1. Go to our login page

  2. Click on the ‘OpenID’ button

  3. Copy and paste, or type out your OpenID, which looks like a web address

Step Two: Start Annotating!

  1. Go to our works page and click on ‘annotate’ beneath the chosen play

  2. All the instructions are written on the side of the page in the ‘Annotation: Howto’ column

Announcing Annotation Sprint

openliterature - February 1, 2011 in News, Publicity, Texts

Change Criticism Forever – Participate in the Open Shakespeare Annotation Sprint

The votes are in! We are annotating Hamlet

This weekend we’re holding the first Open Shakespeare Annotation Sprint — participate and help change criticism forever! We’ll be getting together online and in-person to collaborate on critically annotating a complete Shakespeare play with all our work being open.

All of Shakespeare’s texts are, of course, in the public domain, and therefore already open. However, most editions of Shakespeare people actually use (and purchase) are ‘critical’ editions, that is texts together with notes and annotations that explain or analyze the text, and, for these critical editions no open version yet exists. This weekend we’re aiming to change that!

Using the annotator tool we now have a way to work collaboratively online to add and develop these ‘critical’ additions and the aim of the sprint is to fully annotate one complete play. Anyone can get involved, from lay-Shakespeare-lover to English professor, all you’ll need is a web-browser and an interest in Bard, and even if you can’t make it, you can [vote right now on which play we should work on][vote]!

  • When: Saturday Feb 5th 2011, 11am-6pm GMT
    • May extend either side depending on location of participants
    • May do a second day on Sunday (depending on coffee and enthusiasm)!
  • Where: online and in-person
    • E.g. in-person meetup at University of Cambridge English Faculty
  • Planning etherpad: http://literature.okfnpad.org/annotation-sprint
    • Please add your name here if you plan to participate so we can coordinate
    • Facebook event
  • Event page: http://openshakespeare.org/2011/02/01/announcing-annotation-sprint
  • Requirements: a standards-compliant web browser (Firefox or Chrome recommended — not IE)
    * [Vote for text to annotate (doodle)][vote]

[vote]: http://www.doodle.com/6rghbkbyb5tcin3r
Using specially-designed annotation software we intend to print an edition of Shakespeare unlike any other, incorporating glosses, textual notes and other information written by anyone able to connect to the website.

Work begins with a full-day annotation sprint on Saturday 5th February, which will take online as well as at in-person meetups. Anyone can organize a meetup and we’re organizing one at University of Cambridge English Faculty (if you’d like to hold your own please just add it to the etherpad linked above).

Shakespeare and Media

openliterature - July 29, 2010 in Community, Musings, News, Publicity, Texts

I spent much of this afternoon perusing the materials available at Shakespeare’s Staging, after its director got in touch with Open Shakespeare. Amongst all the images of past productions, my favourite was one of the earliest: a drawing of Edward Kean as Bertram in All’s Well that Ends Well. I find you get a real sense of Bertram at a perhaps more unguarded moment, mouth closed, eyes set, yet also a little forlorn against the grey backdrop.

These pictures and videos got me thinking about something I said about Open Shakespeare’s annotation tool at OKCON, that by allowing people to digitally annotate we would collect and preserve a continuously evolving catalogue of responses to Shakespeare’s works. Shakespeare’s Staging has done something similar, but, whereas Open Shakespeare is concerned with the text, this site records the response of actors and directors to what Shakespeare wrote. Each performance is, after all, its own unique (re)presentation and interpretation of the text.

The overlap between our work is obvious, and the next step of the process seems clear. If we accept that Open Shakespeare should allow anyone to contribute and share their responses to Shakespeare, and if we decide that performance of a play is itself a response to Shakespeare, then our website should expand to allow records of performances to be included. Such records can exist in written form (I think of that Swiss doctor’s description of a performance of Julius Caesar in 1599), but also as images or videos. Each media in turn brings its own problems. A video recaptures the experience of one spectator, but is one spectator’s view representative of the whole audience’s experience? An image captures a moment, a mood, but gains its force through exclusion. Text can only appeal to the eyes and the ears via the brain.

Given the weaknesses of each medium as a record of responses to Shakespeare, the only reasonable conclusion is to adopt a composite approach. Discussion has begun on how best to do this given the current framework of Open Shakespeare, and if anyone reading this has anything to contribute, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

And because I cannot write a blog post without quoting Shakespeare, please allow me to point out one exquisite exchange between the Clown and the Countess worried about her son Bertram, lines which serve as hints for an actor’s behaviour, as much as recognition of the limitations of the written text.

> CLOWN Why, he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the ruff and sing; ask questions and sing; pick his teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of melancholy sold a goodly manor for a song. > > COUNTESS Let me see what he writes, and when he means to come.

Shakespeare’s Staging, and Open Shakespeare too, should let us see what Shakespeare writes in more ways than one.

Open Shakespeare Out of Hibernation

openliterature - June 4, 2010 in Musings, News, Publicity, Releases, Uncategorized

Exam season is finishing, our free time is returning, and Open Shakespeare is coming back to life. We held a short meeting yesterday evening, and can now announce what we intend to do in the near future:

EXPAND: there will be an Open Shakespeare Party in Emmanuel Fellows’ Garden, Cambridge at 3pm on 14th June. Be there if you can, and if you can’t visit our newly refined ‘Get Involved’ page.

WRITE: the first round of introductions will soon be completed, but we want to welcome more submissions, especially if they build upon the work of previous writers.

BLOG: the Word of the Day feature will be back with us very soon, and will hopefully expand in terms of both writers and articles. The blog itself has already had a little bit of an overhaul, and some out-of-date material will be replaced over the coming weeks.

TEACH: following suggestions made at OKCON, we are proposing the use of Open Shakespeare as a classroom aid. Through this we help to raise the profile of the project, and offer a new way for school children to collaboratively engage with Shakespeare.

These are the main points of the meeting, whose minutes are available for perusal. It remains only for me to quote Nestor, in Troilus and Cressida, and say that this post is only a hint of what’s ahead, and yet…

in such indexes, although small pricks
To their subsequent volumes, there is seen
The baby figure of the giant mass
Of things to come at large.

Shakespeare Quarterly part II

openliterature - April 6, 2010 in Community, Musings, Publicity, Technical, Texts

Here, for those interested, is my response to Professor Andrew Murphy’s article in the Shakespeare Quarterly:

“I am a member of the Open Shakespeare Project (www.openshakespeare.org – not to be confused with Open Source Shakespeare) and found this article extremely interesting. I feel that your conclusion points towards many of the approaches to Shakespeare that our project incorporates, and that are part of a more ’social’ approach to Shakespeare.

It occurs to me that as well as spreading Shakespeare to a far larger audience, cheap editions of Shakespeare are also a godsend for students, who may write their thoughts all over their pages without fear of ruining something expensive. If all these scribbles were collected, a formidable body of knowledge of Shakespeare would be available, as would an evolving record of responses to this writer.

Our site has recently acquired the ability for anyone to annotate Shakespeare’s works, and soon will add the capacity to attribute, tag, sort, and hide the annotations made. With this we hope to create an ‘open’ edition of Shakespeare’s plays that would grow along similar lines to Wikipedia, harnessing the power of the internet to bring many minds to bear upon a single subject.

Such problems as found with the OSS still pose difficulties for us: we have to use Moby as a source text since all others, including (lamentably) the wordhoard text, are under copyrights that conflict with our Open license. Nevertheless, just as textual problems are flagged up in a critical edition with a footnote, so too could such problems be drawn to the reader’s attention through annotation. As Whitney Trettien’s article points out, the web comes into its own when it is an ‘expressive medium’ itself, and not one which, like the OSS, unthinkingly delivers content.

Essentially, ISE already has this kind of thinking process, displaying an editor’s annotation on each text right down to the textual variants. It even has the ability to sort such annotations. However, the problems you identify – different kinds of editing, slow progress, uneven quality – all inevitably result, I feel, from the fact that each text only has a single editor. More editors would speed progress but it is not, of course, a given that more editors would improve quality. Wikipedia is still notorious for its occasional inaccuracies.

Nevertheless, such inaccuracies can be resolved by the same process that generates them. If anyone can annotate, so anyone can also review annotation and improve it. I realise that this is a rather utopian position and that people can as easily vandalise as beautify, but I feel it to be a more tenable one than that held by the websites here. The internet allows for unprecedented levels of input as well as appreciation, and such potential is not exploited by the sites reviewed in this article.

Talking of input and appreciation brings me to one further aspect of these sites that interests me, namely how easily one can print from them. The OSS shines in this respect, but attempting to print an ISE fascimile is rather more difficult. I must also admit that printing from an annotated text at The Open Shakespeare Project is currently impossible: the tool only went live fairly recently, and the site is still very much under construction. One day we hope to harness the accumulated and peer-reviewed annotations of many to produce a printed text, and thus complete a cycle between internet and ‘real world’ Shakespeare.

Such a cycle is ignored at the peril of digital scholarship, for it is the mix of real events and online responses to them that makes Facebook so addictive. Other addictive qualities, such as the relatively small time commitment and the chance to interact with other users could be profitably replicated by internet Shakespeare projects. After all, anything capable of sustaining those involved in the long task of making productive use of Shakespeare is always welcome and need not be to the detriment academic rigour.”

Here is the author’s reply:

James: thanks very much for this thoughtful and very interesting response to the review. I’ve had a quick look at your site and think it’s very interesting. It seems to me that you really are pushing forward with a Web 2.0 approach to things, making your site a good deal more interactive than the three I review here. I like the idea of building up a ‘database’ of annotations — and you’re right, of course: textual annotation might be a way round the problems of having to use an outdated source text. I still tend to worry about Wikipedia as a model, however. I always like to tell my students stories of humourous examples of deliberate tampering with Wikipedia, as a way of warning them off using it in their research (perhaps you may know what happened to Thierry Henry’s page, after France put Ireland out of the World Cup?). Will OSP be entirely ‘user governed’, or will you have some sort of ‘top down’ quality control mechanisms? Andy

The discussion raises some interesting issues. How bitesize and user friendly is our website? To what extent should ‘Open Shakespeare’ be user-governed? Any comments and suggestions you may have will be very welcome.