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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: February ::
Re: HyperCard Shakespeare
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 85.  Tuesday, 16 February 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Tad Davis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Feb 93 09:31:01 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0082  Re: HyperCard Shakespeare
 
(2)     From:   Nate Johnson <LHT@CORNELLA>
        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Feb 93 16:30:37 EST
        Subj:   Review of Michael Best's Hypercard Shakespeare's Life and Times
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 16 Feb 93 09:31:01 -0500
Subject: 4.0082  Re: HyperCard Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0082  Re: HyperCard Shakespeare
 
>I have found them very useful, if only for one reason - they beat the hell
>out of paying (currently) A$80 per play for a concordance. It's a little
>time consuming to use them in this way but I have been told that anyone who
>knows how to program Hypercard (not me) can work a 'count' facility into
>them (if that's what you need).
 
Building a "count" facility into HyperCard WOULD be pretty simple to do,
but the results wouldn't be fast. The slowness results from the programming
language built into HyperCard, HyperTalk. HyperTalk is faster than BASIC
but slower than just about anything else. Despite the sluggishness, though,
if you're interested in dabbling in programming, HyperTalk is one of the
absolute BEST places to start. I highly recommend it. You can amaze your
friends and dismay your enemies with only modest effort.
 
Another interesting project would be to include notes, and then in some
unobtrusive way tag the annotated text. Double-clicking on the tagged text
could then open a small window containing the annotation.
 
That kind of thing is, after all, one of the promises that "hypertext"
holds out. It sure beats jumping from the text to the notes at the bottom
of the page and losing your place in both -- something I always end up
doing, because I'm an annotation addict, and to this day I can't pass up an
opportunity to learn once again that "presently" means "immediately."
 
Tad Davis

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nate Johnson <LHT@CORNELLA>
Date:           Tuesday, 16 Feb 93 16:30:37 EST
Subject:        Review of Michael Best's Hypercard Shakespeare's Life and Times
 
The following review of Michael Best's Hypercard stack may be suggestive
in light of the recent discussion on Hypercard Shakespeare texts.
 
 
Michael Best's Hypercard *Shakespeare's Life and Times*
 
(reviewed by Nate Johnson)
 
Fifteen years ago, we would all have been spending the evening watching
television or reading a book.  But this last December, when I visited my family
for Christmas, my two brothers were riveted to the latest Nintendo game, my
mother was playing Tetris on her old IBM XT, while I sat at a new Macintosh
Performa 400 running Michael Best's hypercard stack and taking notes on a
borrowed IBM notebook.
 
Before anyone gets too nostalgic for the days when "computer" didn't modify
"literate," take a look at Michael Best's Hypercard treasure trove,
Shakespeare's Life and Times.
 
Best shows us that, paradoxically, cutting edge 20th century technology may be
the best way yet to convey a sense of the richly textured world of
Shakespeare's England.  The bizarre combination of antique and
modern--Hypercard and Huswifery--goes a long way towards bridging the gap
between the two worlds.  Best's program will turn devoted Shakespeareans on to
the computer age while computer-addicts will find a vivid introduction to
Shakespeare in their own "language."
 
Avoiding the twin extremes of oversimplification and chaos, Best gives
Macintosh users more than a MacShakespeare.  He takes full advantage of
Hypercard's potential to convey a worldview that is as deep as it is wide.  The
nine stacks (around 12 Mb) range from biography of Shakespeare to social,
political, and intellectual background to discussions of eight of the most
widely read plays. Yet the intricately networked connections between stacks are
what give the program its unique value as a learning tool.  Best's application
shows that, unlike books, well-designed hypercard stacks can function almost as
extensions of the user's memory.
 
Starting in the stack on Shakespeare's life, for example, I can either read
from start to finish, "Childhood" through "Retirement," or, as I am often wont
to do, let myself be distracted by associations to an entirely different stack.
 Reading that Shakespeare's family may narrowly have escaped the plague, I can
click on the word "plague," immediately taking me to the appropriate section of
"social background" on life in London.  From there I can call up the card on
London's sewer system, where I find out that Fleet river was basically an open
sewer and that Ben Jonson wrote a mock-heroic poem about a voyage up the Fleet.
 From there, I can either call up a passage from the poem, return to the
biographical stack, or explore further aspects of English city life.  Although
the same information may be available in printed form, the Hypercard format
allows an ease and speed of access that printed media can't match.
 
Although still too introductory for in-depth research, Best's program is a
terrific place to find leads for undergraduate papers. In addition to the
wealth of historical and literary information, Best provides hundreds of
definitions, quotations, and thumbnail biographies of contemporary figures, as
well as a number of well- chosen and up-to-date bibliographies available simply
by clicking on "Further Reading" at just about any point in the program.
 
The most striking feature of Shakespeare's Life and Times may be its vast array
of illustrations, with 500 graphic images taken mostly from Renaissance
sources--maps, portraits, woodcuts, illustrations of dress, architecture, and
stage properties--lending a visual dimension to almost every card.  The
black-and-white woodcuts and engravings of the period make ideal material for
scanned-in graphics.
 
The program also gestures towards the integration of audio and animated
material.  While later versions will include a wider range of brief audio
clips, the sound effects in the version I reviewed are limited to the "Music"
section of the stack on "The literary background."  This sequence is the most
effective combination of textual, visual, and audio media in the program.
Click on the name or picture of an instrument at any point in the sequence and
you'll hear that instrument.  In later versions, you'll be able to hear actors
reading from the plays.
 
In a sequence entitled "Staging a scene from Hamlet," Best uses limited
animation to show how the stage in an Elizabethan outdoor theater works.  Here,
however, is one area where the execution doesn't quite live up to the idea.
While the fixed pictures of the stage and the actors positions and the choice
of scene (Hamlet's encounter with the ghost) are appropriate, the primitive
animation itself adds little to the overall effect.  Later versions of the
program may include more sophisticated graphics, possibly including scenes from
actual productions.
 
Shakespeare's Life and Times demonstrates the increasing potential for
combining state-of-the-art computer technology with scholarship in the
humanities.  In the context of the recent discussions on Hypercard versions of
Shakespeare and the possibility and impossibility of performance criticism, we
might ask ourselves what impact technology can or will have on our notions of
critical concepts such as "text," "performance," "publication," "reading,"
"writing," "criticism."  As processors and storage technologies become bigger
and faster, it may not be too long before a Hypercard Shakespeare could include
background written and visual information such as Best provides, as well as
several complete, fully indexed texts of each play, facsimiles, concordances,
and textually indexed versions of a wide variety of videotaped performances.
 
I highly recommend Shakespeare's Life and Times to anyone with an interest in
Shakespeare and computers and especially to instructors who might be interested
in integrating computers with a classroom- based approach to texts.  I'm sure
Michael Best, a SHAKSPER participant, would appreciate any comments or
speculation this review might provoke.
 
Shakespeare's Life and Times can be ordered ($79.00) from:
 
Intellimation Library for the Macintosh
P.O. Box 1922
Santa Barbara, CA  93116-1922
USA
(1-800-3-INTELL)
 
(N.B.  Version 2.1 includes more sound resources than the version I reviewed,
including passages read in Shakespeare's dialect and more Renaissance music.)
 

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