The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0424  Saturday, 20 October 2012


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Saturday, October 20, 2012

Subject:     Has SHAKSPER’s Time Come?


Dear Subscribers,


Having received only one response to my request for input regarding a survey I was planning led me to investigate some statistics about SHAKSPER’s readership.


Historically, Ken Steele sent the initial SHAKSPER message to the dozen or so original subscribers on 26 July 1990. 


On February 21, 1992, I became SHAKSPER’s co-editor and then on March 25, I took over the editing of the daily submissions into the digests, becoming SHAKSPER’s sole owner, editor, and moderator on June 3, 1992. So for more than 20 years SHAKSPER has been a defining part of my life, something to which I have dedicated countless hours of labor. 


Now in October 2012, I am wondering if SHAKSPER is any longer relevant or needed.


When Ken Steele passed the reigns of SHAKSPER on to me in June 1992, there were 293 members who were virtually all from academia. Now although the membership numbers well over 1,100, the statistics in the Joolma program, upon which the web site is designed and digests are distributed, indicates that since the April 2011 move to the newly designed site and services only 20 to 30 percent of the digests I mail on a generally daily basis are opened. What this means is that fewer people now are reading SHAKSPER than were when I took over in 1992 and access to the Internet was virtually limited to the military and to academics. 


In 2005, I realized, slow learner that I am, that my light hand at moderation was probably the cause of serious academics leaving the conference since the mid-1990s when the number of non-academics was equal to or surpassed the number of Shakespearean scholars and teachers. I vowed to take a more active role as moderator. I also introduced in the coming years the Roundtable format for special topics, Cook’s Tours, and the SBReviews (The SHAKSPER Book Reviews). 


Now, I am beginning to wonder if I might have mistakenly driven the stake into the heart of SHAKSPER in an attempt to reanimate it.


Google Analytics indicates that 5,000 to 6,000 people a month visit the SHAKSPER web site, but it appears that few on the subscription list visit it. 


Ironically, lately I have more energy and am feeling better that I have in at least 10 years thanks to my meditation practice and to my peripheral nerve surgeon and my other doctors all of whom who are at the forefront of their disciplines.  As a result, I now live in an entirely new relationship to the chronic pain that had defined my life for so long. 


I have many options for turning my renewed energies, yet I must wonder if the time I spend on SHAKSPER, a real labor of love for me, is still worth it.


If you have any thought about this topic that you would like to share with me, please do so.



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