Apparently at the ISC (International Shakespeare Conference) last week, there was much ado about what to do with Shakespeare in an online, connected, social world. All I can say to that is, welcome to the party, what took you so long?
I don’t expect that the argument is a new one, it’s just the scale that is changing. Who is entitled to talk about Shakespeare? Should that pleasure be limited to the academics who’ve spent their lives researching the topic? Or can any ill-informed so-and-so with a blog start making stuff up? (Thanks to Mark Kubus at Blogging Shakespeare for ‘ill-informed so-and-so’ :))
It should be obvious what side of this discussion I’m on. I secretly hope that somewhere during that closed-door discussion, my name came up :). I don’t even really care which side of the argument, either. I’d just like to believe that when people actually talk about Shakespeare for a living they know how to do things like google “Shakespeare blog” and follow a couple of links. I do know that suddenly got inquiries from very important people during the conference…
What troubles me is this sudden new movement, even from places like the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, to make Shakespeare more accessible. Where ya been? Seriously. There are plenty of people out here doing their best to make it accessible without you. The very fact that you think you control access to begin with is rather upsetting. It does a disservice to Shakespeare and his work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy to have everybody coming around to the right side of the argument, I just wish that there was a little more acknowledgement to how accessible Shakespeare has already become, and the efforts its taken to get him this far. It kills me that Blogging Shakespeare contains no blogroll or other links to Shakespeare blogs in any prominent matter, and I’m begging them to change that.
Everybody is welcome to discuss Shakespeare in this forum that I and others have created, whether you’ve got academic cred or not. The folks that are currently discussing how to make Shakespeare more accessible? Can’t say the same thing. I even asked whether I could have access to a particular paper that was presented re: Shakespeare and Twitter, and was told it’s not public. Fair enough, but the very fact that I have access up the chain to even ask the right people says volumes about how far we’ve come toward accessibility, at least in one direction. Now we have to fix the system so that either the answer becomes “Yes”, or even better, I don’t have to ask – it just shows up in my blog feeds because they voluntarily make it public.