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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: July ::
Re: Arden CD-Rom
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0665  Friday, 17 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Jeffrey Myers <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 14:00:21 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom

[2]     From:   Nick Kind <
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        Date:   Fridayy, 17 Jul 1998 09:52:15 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeffrey Myers <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 14:00:21 -0400
Subject: 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom

> On page 9 of the Times Literary Supplement dated July 3,
> 1998, there is
> a half-page review of the Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM by Professor G.W.
> Pigman (of the CIT).
[snip]
> The review concludes: 'Even if the Arden
> Shakespeare had been reasonably priced, its shortcomings
> should serve as
> a warning to editors and publishers preparing electronic
> books. At 2500
> pounds, it is a scandal.  This is not the way to bring about a
> revolution in publishing.' I think that it would be helpful
> if those who
> have used the CD-ROM in question could confirm or contradict this
> evaluation; perhaps those who made the editorial options might care to
> justify them? Certainly, I would like to be well informed
> before asking a library to spend such money.

There was a discussion of this CD on the list when a sample disk was
being circulated some time ago.  I agreed with the reviewer you cite and
advised my library against getting it at what I considered an outrageous
price.  Others, including a representative of the publisher, disagreed.
You might want to consult the archives (we do have archives, don't we?)
for the original discussion if someone can remember when the thread took
place.

Jeff Myers

[Editor's Note: Yes, all discussions of the past nine years are
archived.  To access them, use the SEARCH function.  In this case, send
a request like SEARCH SHAKSPER ARDEN AND CD-ROM to

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 .  HMC]

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Kind <
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 >
Date:           Fridayy, 17 Jul 1998 09:52:15 +0100
Subject: 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom

Whilst I did not commission the Arden CD-ROM, or take any of the
editorial or business decisions involved in its genesis (Nelson/ Arden
inherited these from Routledge), I am currently responsible for Arden's
electronic product. Consequently, I responded to the TLS with the
following letter (which has been published in today's edition in an
edited form). On- or off-list, I'll be delighted to pick up on any of
the points I have outlined in it or any which you might feel I have left
out - notably the in-depth technical details of the DTD, which is in
fact based on the TEI spec., but with some details changed to allow for
some of the functionality we have in the Arden product. However, I hope
it is a succinct summary of what we feel.

     Nicholas Kind
     Electronic Development Manager
     The Arden Shakespeare

     ------------

Sir:

I read G.W. Pigman's review of The Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM: Texts and
Sources for Shakespeare Studies (TLS, 3rd July) with concern, as I felt
it focussed on the technical architecture of the disc rather than its
practical uses. I would consequently like to make the following points:

1.  The disc was primarily designed for use in teaching, a use which
Pigman ignores in his review. Some of the most distinctive features of
the disc are therefore left unmentioned, including the ability to click
on "Source" for any scene in the canon and immediately see relevant
highlighted passages from Bullough, and the possibility of creating and
downloading an actor's partbook for any part in Shakespeare.
2.  Folio and Quarto facsimiles for the whole of Shakespeare's work (in
some cases, more than one Quarto per play) are not readily available in
any other electronic form, especially in a form where you - and your
class - can view them simultaneously with an edited text at the push of
a button.
3.  The decision not to include Arden 3rd series texts was made on a
number of grounds:
* Any text of Shakespeare used in a publishing venture (even the First
Folio) is subject to a process of mediation from a corpus of dramatic
work that is by its very nature unattainable in a perfect form. The aim
of the Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM is not to present a final text of
Shakespeare; it is, at least partly, to reveal the process of mediation
insofar as possible and invite debate about it from student and teacher;
and, furthermore, to invite debate about Shakespeare's use of the
materials that were transformed into his plays and poems.
* The product took three years from concept to delivery. In 1995 the
Arden third series had hardly started. Even if the disc were to have
been released in 1997 with the possible Arden 3 texts, there would have
only been four of them.
* There is a huge amount of valuable material in the Arden 2 texts.
Additionally, as the texts go out of print, the CD-ROM will serve as a
valuable archive of a substantial and important part of Shakespeare
scholarship in the late twentieth century.
4.  Any electronic product is a compromise between functional
flexibility and user-friendliness. We did not aim the product at
academics working at highly technically advanced institutions such as
Pigman's (Cal Tech), but at the vast majority of other academic
organisations which have an interest in teaching and studying
Shakespeare in new and innovative ways. Thus, some of the potential
searches that might have been possible have been limited - but it is
nevertheless quite possible to search for variants on "solid flesh" by
using the widely-used "wildcard" type of search - i.e. "s*d flesh".
5.  Pigman has out-of-date information on the cost of the disc. We have
recently introduced a price of 

 

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