There was a day when I would have kidded myself into thinking I’d write this, but it’ll never happen so I put it out here in the hopes that somebody else with more resources might decide to run with it.
I was speaking with Stefanie from MadShakespeare today about the future of Shakespeare on the iPad (since Shakespeare In Bits is leading the way with an iPad version of their Romeo and Juliet experience, which we are giving away, hint hint big hint). While I think that the iPad itself might not change the world, I think it is ushering in an age of “tablet as primary interactive device”, which I think could be huge.
Here’s what I want:
You know how on YouTube right now there are short clips of just about everything under the sun? I just posted some King Lear earlier today as an example. Sometimes you only get a snippet, sometimes if you look you can find a whole movie that’s been broken down into a dozen pieces.
What I want is a directory of Shakespeare video that allows you to stitch together all those videos into a meaningful form. Say, for instance, that I was looking for King Lear. I’d get a list of all the versions of Act I Scene 1 there are on YouTube (assuming I wanted to start with I.1). And then I could compare them. Maybe I put the Olivier up next to the James Earl Jones and see what they do differently, or similarly. Maybe I can see a whole list of Olivier’s Shakespeare videos, and jump instead to his Othello.
While I’m doing this I would also have some sort of note-taking application available so I could jot down ideas, either for myself (such as if I’m doing research for an article or a paper), or directly onto the video with the intent of sharing my thoughts with anybody else who watches the video. And of course there would have to be some sort of snipper/highlighter for capturing, well, highlights.
This would be perfect for an iPad type of application, using the interface to essentially build your own Shakespeare movie. Maybe I could combine my highlights and my notes into a research paper, and publish just the descriptor file so that anybody with this browser could load up what I created and play it? The original videos wouldn’t have to change, just the way you access them.
It’s really a very simple idea. Somebody would have to host a directory where people register their videos, stating some simple meta information – play X, act Y, scene Z. It’d be nice to believe that you can scrape YouTube for this, but the simple problem with that is that the edges are rough and you don’t always find apples-to-apples comparisons. You could even start it yourself by priming the pump manually, scraping YouTube for whatever you can to start with.
I expect that there’s something in YouTube’s terms of service that would prevent such an app from being created. That means that if anybody does want to build this for real, their future would probably involve becoming a video hosting/streaming site of their own, and that’s big business. So maybe it’s not so easy on the execution. But then again that’s why I never build these things, I always talk myself out of them.