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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: January ::
Re: Hypertext and Shakespeare
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0035.  Saturday, 15 January 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Michael Best <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Jan 94 09:18:33 PST
        Subj:   Hypertext and Shakespeare
 
(2)     From:   Michael Sharpston <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Jan 1994 20:42:00 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0033 Re: Hypertext Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Best <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Jan 94 09:18:33 PST
Subject:        Hypertext and Shakespeare
 
John Cox makes the very reasonable request that the concept of hypertext
be explained if those of us interested in it are to get any useful
response (input? feedback?) from the network. Remembering that in the thin
medium of email, I for one don't often read past the third screenful, here
goes:
 
Hypertext is the result of the power that the computer gives us to make
multiple lateral links between linear texts. Thus, for  example, the
computer makes it possible for us to make continuous links between a play
and its source, so that at any time the reader can examine what
Shakespeare may have been using as he wrote. The "text" that is linked can
also be a sound, a graphic image, or a video clip. Links can also be made
directly between the various supporting materials independent of the basic
text, so that the result is a network of links. In a well-designed
hypertext environment users can make their own links and add their own
material to that provided
 
I plan to produce a hypertext eedition of *Romeo and Juliet*. Though my
preferred platform, and still the best for multimedia, is the Macintosh, I
am designing the material in a sufficiently generalized way that it will
be possible to "port" it to Windows if there is interest/funding. Here is
the current list of tools I plan to make available.
 
Texts (which can be viewed in parallel or separately)
 
   * The Bad Quarto (Q1)  }
   * The Good Quarto (Q2) } electronic texts
   * The Folio (F)        }
   * (Ideally) the Good Quarto text in graphic form.
   * An edited modern-spelling text.
   * The capacity for users to create their own version of the text.
 
Related material
 
   * Sources, analogues, linked to the text.
   * Contemporary historical material (suggestions welcome)
 
Scholarly apparatus
 
   * Detailed hypertext "footnotes" as usual in a scholarly edition. The
     footnotes will in turn be linked to background or critical material.
   * A concordance of the text, with each word linked to each of its
     occurrences.
   * An extensive bibliography, accessible by context-sensitive links
     from both text and supporting material, of both critical
     discussions and related works that deal with historical and
     social issues of the time.
   * Index with automatic links, and all the powerful "find" and "search"
     capabilities of the computer.
 
Critical commentary
 
   * Hypertext would most effectively offer links between contrasting
     or differing critical reactions to specific lines, though the
     ability to link a passage to passages that in various ways are
     similar is effectively a critical exercise. My own bias would be
     to offer ways for the user to explore parallels (and to create
     links where he or she perceived parallels) rather than to
     expatiate upon them.
   * An extensive anthology of critical commentary.
   * The stage history, complete with graphics and QuickTime video clips
     where available.
 
Research tools in addition to the concordance and bibliography
 
   * Users will be able to create their own notes, hypertext links,
     bibliographical entries and so on, and will have the choice of making
     these available to others.
   * All material in the program generated specifically for the edition,
     and therefore copyright free, will be available (via a tool for
     cutting and pasting) for teaching or scholarly use.
 
That's it so far. Comments and suggestions are welcome.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Sharpston <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Jan 1994 20:42:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0033 Re: Hypertext Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0033 Re: Hypertext Shakespeare
 
Further to James McKenna and hypertext Shakespeare, I would like to solicit the
knowledge and assistance of everyone on the fundamental issue of authoring/
arranging text for use in a hypertext system.  By and large, for "hypertext"
read "hypermedia" if you wish and where appropriate, (non-text media might
certainly add a helpful dimension to Martin Zacks' "play in performance").
 
I was very taken by Vint Cerf's remark that hypertext could help supply context
for an electronic communication, (indeed more or less context at the option of
the reader), and hence help to deal with my notorious "thin communication"
issue.  I also believe that
        (a) the burgeoning mega-success of Internet
        (b) the apparent very significant success on Internet of
            Mosaic, a hypertexty interface to Internet,
            will combine to lead to more stuff being published in hypertexty
            form.  Hypertext has been around in the computer world for a
            while (and quite pop ever since Macintosh Hypercard), but I think
            it has so far been for rather niche uses.  Internet/ Mosaic may
            drive much broader currency of the concept.
 
I have concerns.  Yes indeed as James McKenna says, how good is it for a work
of literature to disembowel itself on request.  (Although Mishnah, commentary
of the Fathers, on the Koran, whatever, is hardly as new as hypertext).  My
concerns are based on a good deal of ignorance but go as follows:
        (a) Hypertext rather deprives one of the structure provided
            by long linear sections of text.  Is it true that with hypertext
            you cannot build on an assumption of growing knowledge on the
            part of your reader, as you would in a standard book, proceeding
            through the chapters with the reader?
        (b) And how to avoid aimless wandering by a reader, "lost
            in hyperspace"?
        (c) Or superficiality brought about by soundbite snippets
            of text, so that even an accumulation of them do not achieve what
            a solid chunk of text could achieve?
        (d) A Japanese acqaintance told me that he tended when
            reading to jump from kanji to kanji, half-ignoring the more
            wispy kana.  I have heard somewhere (credibly or not) that
            readers may do something the same with hypertext, going from one
            highlighted word to the next and half-ignoring the rest of the
            text.  (Click on the highlighted word and it summons up more
            information about that item).  Some SHAKSPERians (including yours
            truly) might not be very happy at the prospect of their prose
            being treated in this cavalier fashion.
 
Can anyone help me on all this?
 
Last but not least an important disclaimer.  None of the views expressed here
are those of my employer.  They are the uncertain musings of a searcher for
assistance.
 
          Michael Sharpston
          
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