Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

A Holonic Approach to Shakespeare: The Digital Reference System (DRS)

Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

A Holonic Approach to Shakespeare: The Digital Reference System (DRS)

Article excerpt

Prefatory Remarks

When hypertext was made available on the Internet after 1994 it shaped the concepts of public domain and free access. The web server and browsing system that Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau designed, determined the future digital, editorial and cultural developments for traditional audiences and digital natives alike. They quickly became the generalized interface tools and thus contributed to today's editorial standards. As they helped to create this innovative environment called the Internet, they also helped to establish many standards such as URL, URI, HTTP HTML or XML, which provided interoperability amongst different platforms and allowed internationalization.

Shakespeare's texts became part of the interoperable and open network environment which took off after Grady Ward compiled and distributed a public domain version of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, the so called Moby Shakespeare, which has been credited as being the most widely distributed version of Shakespeare 's Works in the world. The concepts such as free use, fair use and worldwide distribution, including many practical any platform-applications significantly increased the added value of the emergent digital environment, providing the opportunity to encode, transcode, clone and distribute the best Shakespearean file(s) in digital environment. Gary Taylor and Ian Lancashire have already discussed this issue from an ontological point of view, so we spare the reader a repetition of their arguments.

From a computational perspective, and after analyzing both the functionality and quality of the Moby Project, we can say that the main advantage of Grady Ward's proposal is that it allows Internet users to easily access the complete unabridged works of Shakespeare in a digital format (plain text or as TXT), which has produced many important technological advances since it was first published. The disadvantage is that, as David Greetham (348) pointed out, Grady Ward adds "nothing" to the editorial methodology because as a would-be editor he used as the most authoritative text the famous Globe Edition (1886) edited by W.G. Clark and W.A. Wright. This ideal out-of-copyright edition did not improve upon the computational modern spelling edition of the Riverside Shakespeare's Complete Works by Marvin Spevack (digitized with the IBM 7094 in 1969), nor Trevor Howard-Hill's old spelling concordances (generated with the English Electric KDF9 also in 1969), nor the First Folio facsimile published by Sir Sidney Lee in 1902, which continues to be the most used and popular digital text available for free downloading from the Internet.1

In the context of this debate, we undertook an in-depth study of a series of different accessories (also called para-textual elements), which have been added throughout time in most of the standard editions, for example the main functional/dramatic characteristics of textual divisions, character headings, stage directions, etc. We compared the main elements of the sequential line numbering (SLN) system with the famous through line numbering (TLN) system. Having detected their most important inadequacies for today's digital use, which we discuss in the present paper, we developed our own system, which we called either the key line numbering (KLN) or the digital reference system (DRS), depending on what aspect of the proposal we want to stress.

Standard Abbreviations for Play-Titles

Each time we want to cite, quote or even concord any verse, line or word of any of Shakespeare's plays we usually make use of traditional and accepted devices such as a sigil (commonly named abbreviation or textual identifier) for the plays' title (Tit. for Titus Andronicus', HAM for Hamlet), followed by act and scene division (I.i. or Il.iii.) and line numbers (I.ii.124-127). We have studied exhaustively almost all existing Shakespearean editions to establish the abbreviation methods used throughout time and decided what could be improved to make these textual identifiers more standard, international, bibliographical and digital. …

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