[okfn-help] Open Shakespeare comments

John Bywater john.bywater at appropriatesoftware.net
Wed Sep 3 17:28:29 BST 2008

Rufus Pollock wrote:
> As a starter I don't know whether you saw the extra text now on the 
> front page of:
> http://www.openshakespeare.org/
> entitled: "Why Open Shakespeare". It tries to explain how we are 
> 'more' than 'yet another shakespeare site'

Yes I did. The use case seems to be: "provide texts as an Open Knowledge 
resource". But that only mandates having a relatively boring website. 
:-) So I thought, surely this needs to be taken a lot further before 
it's a convincing value proposition.

> On 01/09/08 19:30, John Bywater wrote:
>> [snip] Wouldn't the thing be more impressive if it were to have the 
>> goal of being an interface for "all literature"? 
>> Milton/Shakespeare/... could be an options on a tab, "Package" or 
>> something.
> Yes, absolutely. Iain and I have already been chatting about 
> 'generalizing' OS/OM to Open Literature. While I think a solid core 
> can be factored out experience has shown me that each project is 
> likely to have a fair amount of specific stuff. Plus if you become too 
> generic you just end up listing texts -- which others, such as 
> Gutenberg already do (pace the odd in copyright version and the 
> Gutenberg spiel on the front that makes them non-open).

Oh, I wonder whether there's a false technical limit being applied here: 
we could easily highlight a forgiving core OL presentation, and extend 
it as required for the particularities of individual packages.

This is basically how /provide/ uses applications. It doesn't mind how 
applications are design to be deployed: any gap with the 'standard' 
routine (i.e. what /domainmodel/ does by default) is filled by an 
application-specific /provide/ plugin.

If OL is always presenting datapkgs, you can pick and choose when to 
make package-specific presentation extensions. /provide/ has to take 
things as it finds them...

>> [snip]http://www.openshakespeare.org/
>> But to standardise open access across a very broad range of core 
>> texts would augment the standardising functionality of the book (as a 
>> machine: turn the right way up, open cover, read contents, read page, 
>> turn page, ...), and I'm sure would be a good thing. At least 
>> playshakespeare.com specifies content is GFDL. They seem to have put a 
> We had a long chat with the guy behind that on okfn-discuss when he 
> first did the release. As you say it is under the GFDL though the 
> front cover text and back cover text requirement do raise reuse issues 
> (and perhaps render it non-open vis-a-vis the OKD).

Perhaps they would be amenable to reason? Perhaps not. At this time, 
I've seen neither the cover text requirements you refer to, nor the 
archive of the earlier discuss.

>> lot of work into the content too, but it's a probably just a roll up, 
>> and ghastly to look at. Is anybody else actually developing 
>> technology (I think we can call CKAN/datapkg/openshakespeare 
>> technology) to address this concern? If not, that's the U.S.P. What's 
>> the British library doing?
>> [goes to look]
>> http://www.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/timeline.html
>> Microfacts with openshakespeare would be much nicer than that. You 
>> could click from the timeline on microfacts to the plays on 
>> openshakespeare.
> I was recently chatting with someone about using Microfacts in this 
> way :)


>> The .asp thing doesn't sound promising for F/OSS. And the "texts" are 
>> images and not all minced up like on openshakespeare. And the links 
>> go off to misc' shakespeare-specific resources. Seems a bit 
>> haphazard. Guess Milton (e.g.) is done differently.
>> The variation might be a good thing, but we collect the factlets, and 
>> the better elements of interaction, and draw together a much sharper 
>> provision.
>> http://shakespeare.palomar.edu/timeline/timeline.htm
>> We could try to make an Open Literature association, dedicated to 
>> this work, which different stakeholders could join. By stating the 
>> purpose narrowly, it might appear useful to these different 
>> organisations.
> Sure. We should definitely make more efforts to get the word out. I 
> think someone recently posted to okfn-discuss a useful listed of 
> places we could post about OS/OM/OL as a resource.

Could we attempt to set up a development club, write a prospectus, and 
ask organisations like the British Library to join for a modest fee? 
They must all have development budgets for speculating on this sort of 


> ~rufus

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