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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: January ::
Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
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The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0088  Tuesday, 13 January 2004

[1]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jan 2004 12:57:25 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

[2]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jan 2004 13:00:55 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

[3]     From:   Chris Kelsey <
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 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Jan 2004 12:50:32 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 Jan 2004 13:10:11 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

[5]     From:   John Perry <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jan 2004 01:12:50 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

[6]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jan 2004 10:34:40 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Jan 2004 12:57:25 -0500
Subject: 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

I hope Gabriel doesn't freak out, but I am in complete agreement with
him.  Books certainly have no advantage over e-books.  Printed books
have errors as well, as we all know, and can be destroyed, degraded, and
so on.  In fact, it's easy to argue that e-books are superior to printed
books in every regard.  You can "pass them around" by downloading them
and forwarding the files. If you don't want to read them on your
computer screen, you can print them out.  Errors in e-books can both be
pointed out and corrected.  Editions can be updated frequently. Pages
can't be torn, bindings can't fall off, pages can't fade or fall out,
etc.  I am sure the WS bib online has everything saved on multiple back
up discs on multiple computers.  Plus there's the ecological advantage.
  No trees needed.

In any case, Gabriel's point is not about all books but about biblio
books.  As anyone who has used both well knows, there is simply no
comparison between using a well constructed online search engine and
using an index from a book.

And there's no elitism here.  Given how many people have computers
(across the world, not just in developing countries), e-books are
possibly more accessible to more people than print.  Any talk of a
"rush" to online publishing is rubbish. It just shows how slow some
(many? most?) literary academics are when it comes to learning how to do
research (anything?) in a new and slightly different manner.

Best,
Richard

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Jan 2004 13:00:55 -0500
Subject: 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

For those who, like myself, find the computer/WWW the route of least
resistance for research of all sorts, here's a sobering little article,
one I use each semester with my computer concepts classes at University
of New Haven in a more extended form (printed in their textbooks):

http://www.chriswaltrip.com/sterling/acmbruce.html

"The extent and rate of this quiet immolation have been enormous." Bruce
Sterling, originally published in _Communications of the ACM_ Feb 1997

Mari Bonomi

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Kelsey <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Jan 2004 12:50:32 -0600
Subject: 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

Printed material is certainly more comfortable (esp. among scholars),
and we must remember that when we publish electronically we publish not
just in the language for the reader but the electronic language (which
will exist only as long as its producer deems it profitable or computer
systems read it), but the cost of publishing versus the demand for
it--not just general support but active buying--is a significant
challenge to the survival of academic presses and resources. World of
Shakespeare just happens to be in the crosshairs on this one; and like
most publishers they must make the decision of how best to distribute
their resources. If we had our druthers we'd distribute through all
formats. Survival of the project, however, may necessitate choosing only
one format, and it may not be the most traditional or ideal, but it's
what we have for now.

There are better cost solutions on the horizon, though; so take heart.
Consider listening to the report at

http://www.npr.org/display_pages/features/feature_1593646.html

New binding technologies may make it possible not only for bookstores to
create decently bound, print versions of books stored electronically--as
the report suggests--but enable scholarly communities to maintain
economically sought-after print resources that are being challenged by
conventional publishing economics.

Please don't be too angry with the World. Publishing is very expensive.
I just received a US$71,000 postage bill for my engineering publication.
Adding in the $50,000 paper and ink cost, and then calculating the staff
time on the matter, well, we've barely broken even ... and I edit our
commercial mag. We gave our technical journal to an academic society,
the heads of which quickly realized that printing and distributing the
journal would be more expensive per member than they collected in annual
dues. (They are a truly international group.) They now will publish
electronically through a UK-based academic press. That press told them
flat out that print was out of the question.

Sad, but in many fields it is.

-cK

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Jan 2004 13:10:11 -0800
Subject: 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

Tony and David have weighed in against electronic bibliographies.  They
both make good points, but I think that the alleged shortcomings of
electronic sources have much more to do with the discipline of those
using and creating these sources than with the electronic media itself.
  On the other hand, certain media (say, writing with a dip pen) might
actually impose a high level of discipline.

More importantly, electronic sources strike me as generally easier to
use and more democratic to access than print sources.  While they can,
of course, be as overpriced as books, they're also free of many of the
limitations of books.  An institution such as mine has only been
collecting academic books since the mid-1980s, but I have access to the
complete back-issues of Shakespeare Quarterly through JSTOR and can
order whatever I want through the MLA index, since we have access to all
of the back-issues through SilverPlatter.  To build up a similar
collection would require years of trolling for hard-copies or sending
out itinerant photocopy pirates to make us reproductions.

Yrs,
Sean.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Perry <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jan 2004 01:12:50 -0500
Subject: 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

Please forgive me if I'm inferring more than is actually being said
here, but:

Tony Burton <
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 > writes,
 >
 >For one thing, print on paper is more friendly to the physical
 >nature of a human reader, and was designed with the eyes in mind.
 >Computer terminals are a physical strain on the eyes at least, and may
 >be unhealthy in the long run.

Printers are abundant and cheap; so are paper and ink.  Monitors are
improving quickly.

 >Acknowledging the "extraordinary power"
 >of computer technology  praised by Gabriel Egan, it's not a panacea, nor
 >a bride for all markets.

For which reason printers are also very popular.

 > Of
 >course computer data bases have an enormous range of valuable uses, and
 >make rare books available across the world.  But the rare books were not
 >produced in limited number because computer access was preferable and
 >desired by readers, the computers are just making the best of a
 >difficult and undesirable situation.

Which is exactly the reason that if a choice has to be made, a
_bibliography_ should opt for the
computerized format.  I've never heard of anyone who spoke of burning
real books because they're
in electronic format.  I would dearly love to have some rare books among
my hundreds of real ones,
but as a low-level engineer, I'll never have a chance to put my hands on
one -- much less own one.
Electronic format is my only hope of ever seeing a Folio or a Quarto.
Even the reproductions are
so expensive I could never convince my wife that we should add one to
our collection of four
Complete Works of  Shakespeare.

...what, exactly, is the particular extra value of a publisher-bound
bibliography over a personally
bound one?

 >Finally, I find the rush to this modern, gee-whiz technological style of
 >research offensively elitist.  There are places where computer-access is
 >restricted, and if publishers abandon book publishing, there won't even
 >be copies of current materials to hand around.

And in nearly all of these places, printed matter -- particularly
local-language printed matter -- is equally restricted.  I find elitist
the implication that there is more value in spending weeks digging
through volumes of print to find most instances of a phrase than there
is in spending seconds typing the phrase into a search engine to find
_all_ the instances.

And, yes, I'm fully aware of the problems of matching all possible
spellings in various literary eras. You still have work to do, and all
technologically literate people know it. All of Professor Burton's
succeeding arguments are just as valid criticisms of printed matter as
they are of electronic matter.  Recall that the Gutenberg Project was
started precisely because billions of real people will never have a
chance to see a printed copy of, for instance, The Faerie Queene; but
that text, and thousands of others, can be read by anyone anywhere who
has access to a computer and a cdrom drive.

 >In a world where wealth
 >is poorly distributed ... But the real issue is not which is better,
 >it's whether to abandon the good entirely for the just-possibly-better.

I repeat, for a _bibliography_, if it comes to selecting only one, it
should certainly be the electronic
format.

David Lindley <
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 > writes,
 >
 >Well, we've been round this before, but Literature Online is
 >emphatically NOT a reliable scholarly resource. The keyed texts contain
 >many errors, or are derived from imperfect editions; there are, I am
 >told, a significant number of misattributions; ...
 >
 >...Yes, of course, there are many sorts of information which electronic
 >media make available in ways that print cannot match - and I certainly
 >would not now want to be without LION or EEBO - but they are much less
 >reliable than they can appear to be.

And, of course, the solution is to put the work into bringing them up to
snuff -- a task much less
burdensome than it would be if these resources were strictly printed.
Millions of businessmen have not spent trillions of dollars building
these technologies just to be in
vogue.  Literate people can gain a great deal by making intelligent use
of them.

John Perry

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jan 2004 10:34:40 -0800
Subject: 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0065 Important Changes to the World Shakespeare
Bibliography

Tony Burton wrote

 >. . . I find the rush to this modern, gee-whiz technological style of
 >research offensively elitist.  There are places where computer-access is
 >restricted . . .

Indeed there are such places. But hundreds of millions of readers have
access to computers, while only a small fraction of that number live
near a research library. If anything, it's print that's elitist.

 >Moreover, knowledge is a threat in many places to the
 >holders of power and, with centralization of access (okay,
 >Shakespeare studies may be down on the list of worrisome
 >activities) the Beast will have fewer heads to cut off . . .

Also true. But electronic media are not necessarily centralized. An
example: Napster was vulnerable to closure because its database was
centralized. Kazaa, its successor, is genuinely peer-to-peer and can't
be shut down any more than the centre-less Internet can be. However, I
accept that Internet access is something like access to God before the
Reformation in that it makes users dependent on a priesthood of
intermediaries (ISPs, local gurus, technicians) doing what to the rest
of us looks like magic. A CD-ROM, by this analogy, is like a vernacular
bible.

David Lindley wrote of the shortcomings of databases:

 >The keyed texts contain many errors, or are derived from
 >imperfect editions; there are, I am told, a significant number
 >of misattributions; and I've spoken before about the inadequacy
 >of the search engine. No statistics based on LION are likely to
 >be accurate.

This claim about statistics does not follow from the quite correct
statement about errors. LION certainly does have errors, as do print
reproductions.  The error rate in LION is well documented and can be
factored into statistical analysis. For example, my demonstration (Ben
Jonson Journal 8 (2001) pp. 327-47) that literary writers of the
Renaissance preferred to say 'seeing a play' (and its related forms)
over 'hearing a play' is so overwhelmingly supported by examples from
LION at a ratio of 12-to-1 in over 100 occurrences that the keying
errors don't matter.

 >It's proving to be the same with EEBO, to which my university has just
 >subscribed. My colleague Martin Butler and I have already encountered
 >two texts where openings have been missed out (one presumes in the
 >digitisation process), and the same mechanical failure, one assumes,
 >accounts for the clipping of some texts, and the unreadability of some
 >words in tightly-bound margins (the latter seeming to be a more frequent
 >fault in EEBO than in the microfilm series from which it derives).

I've found pages missing in EEBO and in every case the same error exists
in the microfilms from which it was made. I'm most interested in the
claimed error during digitization and would be grateful to know the STC
numbers and signatures where you've found this.

It is not true that print is inherently a more reliable medium than
electronic text. All books produced in the last few years were
electronic before they were ink-on-paper: authors almost always use
word-processors and in the rare cases where they don't the publishers in
any case use digital text in-house and when sending copy to be printed.
The final stage of turning these digital texts into ink-on-paper doesn't
magically make them more reliable.  So the choice for those producing
such texts as the World Shakespeare Bibliography is either to turn the
electronic text into ink-on-paper, thereby reducing its usefulness, or
to distribute it in electronic form. Those who prefer paper can easily
produce it from the electronic text using those infernal machines that
fill offices with ozone. Notably, those who prefer the electronic text
can't easily get it from the printed one.

Gabriel Egan

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