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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
A New Digital Shakespeare from Northwestern
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The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1222  Wednesday, 9 June 2004

[1]     From:   Martin Mueller <
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 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Jun 2004 10:01:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1211 A New Digital Shakespeare from Northwestern
University

[2]     From:   Graham Hall <
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 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 08 Jun 2004 15:18:11 +0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1211 A New Digital Shakespeare from Northwestern
University


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Mueller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Jun 2004 10:01:37 -0500
Subject: 15.1211 A New Digital Shakespeare from Northwestern
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1211 A New Digital Shakespeare from Northwestern
University

Louis Thompson rightly takes me to task for being a little cryptic. Here
is an explanation.

Any digital version of a text that originated in some other medium
(print or manuscript) is a surrogate of that "original."   It is worse
for some purposes, and many people think of the migration from print to
screen as a loss. It is better for other purposes: there are things that
you can do with a properly encoded digital surrogate that you can never
do with its "original." A text in any medium has a "query potential,"
which makes it harder or easier to look up certain things. Finding stuff
in a scroll is distinctly more labor intensive than finding stuff in the
random access device known as a codex. And so on.

For better or for worse, digital surrogates are here to stay, and we
might as well take advantage of them to the best of our and the
technology's abilities. If you think along those lines, you are driven
to the conclusion that a digital surrogate should go beyond mimicking
the printed page. The printed page, after all, is an encoding technology
for a decoding entity--aka the reader--who is quite limited and slow in
some ways but remarkably subtle in others. Readers bring tons of tacit
knowledge to the act of making sense of the black squiggles on the page.

  For the digital surrogate to be useful, it helps to encode explicitly
in it at least a few of the bits of information that readers tacitly use
to resolve the ambiguities as their eyes move along the lines of text.
A text created in this fashion is a remarkably ugly thing to look at,
but it does support a lot of inquiries that impose prohibitive time
costs in a print environment. And a properly constructed digital
surrogate with an appropriate interface to some extent changes the
calculus of what is worth doing. If the time cost of chasing a hare or
wild goose drops from weeks and months to seconds or minutes, I might
just chase a few of them in the hope of finding something.

This of course generates new possibilities for wasting time. But that
has been and attendant curse of every technology and as the Romans said:
"abusus non tollit usum."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Jun 2004 15:18:11 +0000
Subject: 15.1211 A New Digital Shakespeare from Northwestern
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1211 A New Digital Shakespeare from Northwestern
University

I'd hazard a few bob on it being a spoof except that computer salesmen
(and my grandchildren) seem to communicate in Mueller-speak.

Don't knock him - he might be one of the new-wave geniuses.

Best,
G.

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