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iPad Apps

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0436  Monday, 29 October 2012

 

[1] From:        Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         October 28, 2012 2:15:07 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: iPad Apps 

 

[2] From:        Brett D. Hirsch < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         October 29, 2012 12:50:02 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: iPad Apps 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         October 28, 2012 2:15:07 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: iPad Apps

 

>There’s an ongoing struggle between those promoting the free 

>(in both senses) dissemination of knowledge about Shakespeare 

>and those trying to commercialize that knowledge. For the most 

>part, smartphone/tablet apps help the latter group.

  

For my part, I am not fond of apps; I find them difficult to manipulate on a smartphone and I like to print things out.  But that is my own preference, because I am old and crusty.  Users who value the portability and flexibility of apps may well choose to purchase them.  Naturally, the producers who apply their ingenuity and incur costs and effort to provide the apps are entitled to be compensated.  I can’t understand why anyone would have a problem with that.

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Brett D. Hirsch < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         October 29, 2012 12:50:02 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: iPad Apps

 

While I agree entirely with Gabriel’s points—particularly his concerns about hardware/software dependencies and the additional programming work required to meet an increasingly fragmented market of platform-specific devices—I’m more optimistic about their potential long-term benefits.

 

As a number of colleagues have noted (e.g. Lukas Erne, John Jowett, Eugene Giddens, and Gabriel himself), the critical (and, more importantly, the pedagogical) reception of electronic editions of Shakespeare and his contemporaries has not matched the enthusiasm with which they were initially lauded. Among the many reasons for this, I believe, is a continued unfamiliarity on the part of users—i.e. even in an age of ubiquitous computing, students and scholars are still not used to reading and studying Shakespeare electronically.  Printed editions remain the mainstay for our work as scholars and educators. If this is to change, we need not only to change minds and comfort zones, but habits of mind.

 

Minds are already changing. The iPad is fast becoming the first electronic device through which a new generation accesses electronic content. Consequently, apps represent a learned behaviour for this generation as the primary platform for accessing documents or information. The increasing number of videos on YouTube of infants unsuccessfully trying to turn the pages of printed books using the “swipe” action learned from the iPad and other electronic devices are (however disconcerting) cases in point.

 

For generations less familiar with such technologies, the increasing popularity of Shakespeare apps will, I hope, work to naturalize the idea that Shakespeare can be read, studied, taught, and enjoyed as successfully on-screen as on the page. Users frustrated with the technical and critical limitations of these commercial apps will then, I hope, turn to the open-access, web-based scholarly alternatives offered by projects like the Internet Shakespeare Editions, Richard Brome Online, the Queen’s Men Editions, and, once it has been launched next year, the Digital Renaissance Editions. Gabriel has already covered the reasons why efforts such as these, working with open standards to deliver their content to multiple platforms over the Internet, are worthy of our continued support.

 

These apps (and other electronic editions) also force us to reconsider what constitutes an edition, to rethink some of the conventions and assumptions about texts and editions we have inherited from print, and encourage us to experiment with how such early modern dramatic texts are, could be, or should be presented to the reader. This is, I believe, where the most exciting and innovative work on electronic editions is taking place—at the interface level—and the production of apps contributes to this ongoing discussion.

 

Finally, important arguments about the inequalities of access to devices/services and the commercialization of intellectual content aside, isn’t anything that encourages a wider readership and appreciation of Shakespeare a good thing?

 

Brett D. Hirsch

 

[Editor’s Note: Brett Hirsch, for those that might not know, is the inspiration behind the Digital Renaissance Editions: http://digitalrenaissance.uvic.ca If your are not familiar with the project, I encourage you to visit it. In the interests of full disclosure, I am on the Advisory Board. –Hardy] 

 
 

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