The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0066 Wednesday, 12 January 2005
Date: Wednesday, 12 Jan 2005 04:10:51 -0800
Subject: 16.0024 It's Time for Another Meta-Discussion
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0024 It's Time for Another Meta-Discussion
SHAKSPER posts are one of the pleasures in my inbox and I wouldn't mind
at all if the format stayed the same. I fear, however, that our
conservatism as list subscribers--which looks like the consensus so
far--is not helpful in resolving some of Hardy's concerns.
1. A change in technology could benefit all of us. Just as hardware
advances have left RGB monitors and 300-baud modems back in the last
century, the Internet user interface has undergone some remarkable
changes. (Warning: techspeak bumps ahead.)
a. Internet client programs are beginning to blend into one another.
For example, at 3.5 million (!) websites, notably blogs, one can seek
out the link to get an RSS feed--that is, get website updates sent to
you. (At your favorite websites look for a little orange rectangle
saying XML, or red/gray boxes that say Atom and RSS, or other signs that
you can subscribe.)
I didn't really know how RSS (Really Simple Syndication) worked until a
couple weeks ago when I switched from Outlook Express to Thunderbird, an
email program that is also an RSS reader. By the old technique of RYFM
(uh, reading the manual--about one page), I set up a few subscriptions
inside 15 minutes.
What's the benefit? Well, by getting an RSS feed from, say, Penn's
Online Books Page (http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/), I get updates
on new e-books as soon as they are posted in a section above my inbox.
That's how I learned that Arber's Stationers' Registers were coming
online. RSS means you don't you have to repeatedly visit websites and
tediously check pages for changes; the changes come to you.
That's one way the web interacts with your email. Go to
http://www.feedster.com/ for an index of those millions of RSS feeds.
Newer web browsers like Firefox and newer email clients like Thunderbird
have built-in readers. A program called Bloglines lets you look at all
feeds in, apparently, any browser. You'll also find separate viewers
(news aggregators) like NetNewsWire (for Mac) and Sharp Reader and Atom
Feed Reader (for PC), or Radio UserLand (Mac, PC).
BTW most things I've mentioned so far are free at
http://www.download.com/ and elsewhere. I'm an enthusiastic convert to
Mozilla's open-source software like Firefox: I can wave goodbye to Bill
Gates without leaving Windows.
b. Likewise, email-list discussion is now possible in a variety of
formats at sites that facilitate instant updating of webpages--that is,
web message boards and web blogs, or blogs. You don't have to have
spiky hair or ride a skateboard to appreciate the flexibility of
blogging technology. I'm sure that one of the blog formats would be
congenial for Hardy and SHAKSPERians alike. For example, one format has
message boards from which the blog owner can pluck good pieces and
repost on his blog's home page--from which you can get an RSS feed.
With such a design you wouldn't have to surf to SHAKSPER unless RSS sent
an interesting item to your inbox.
Furthermore, as every blog item has a link (like
blog material is archivable and searchable. This seems like a
requirement for a scholarly list like this.
If you haven't visited a blog, find one at Google's own directory of
Or just visit Peter Suber's blog about scholarship's Open Access
movement: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/fosblog.html (Of course,
you can get an RSS feed from him, too.)
2. A few Hardy Boys could be recruited to help run SHAKSPER; there could
even be a monthly rotation among a few hardies when the real one has to
write a paper, teach a class, or fix a roof.
3. An annual but non-annoying annual pledge drive might generate more
than a few hundred dollars to pay for the necessary technology, with a
special drive to pay transition costs.
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