Development of “home” and “professional” editions with partner archives.

Currently in grant-planning process.

PHASE 2 “Mobile Shakespeare Scripts”

Validating the concept of “home” and “professional” editions with a single target audience, theater professionals.

“Mobile Shakespeare Scripts” (“MyShx” for short) will develop and test in rehearsal a dynamic script interface for theater practitioners: professionals, academics, and amateurs. MyShx prototypes a core component of Cambridge World Shakespeare Online, a collaborative workspace for scholars, teachers, students and performers worldwide. It seeks to validate within a defined user community the dual publishing model for this workspace, which balances sustainability with open access to primary and secondary materials. And it directly addresses the rights challenges resulting from robust user-generated content. Cambridge University Press, USC, and Bryn Mawr College are supporting the design of a lightweight iPad prototype. The American Shakespeare Center, in Staunton, VA will partner on the project, testing the usefulness of a dynamic script over the lifecycle of a play in production. Our partners will collaborate on a public report sharing the results and prototype design.

This study includes the following stages of development:

Documentation, dissemination
June-November 2012

Whitepaper on validating a sustainable dual edition with a defined set of users for whom no such resource currently exists.

Working sessions at the American Shakespeare Theater
February 2012-May 2012

Exploration of the strengths and limitations of a mobile script.

Prototype development

October 2011- January 2012

Developers prepare one play for experimentation as a mobile script, in rehearsal.

1. Specifying basic functions
June 2011

In consultation with partners and developers.

PHASE 1 “The Cambridge World Shakespeare Online”

Conceptualizing CWSO, visualizing CWSO, identifying audiences and partners, testing the concept with those audiences and partners

Refinement of wireframes, documentation, dissemination
January-March 2011

This website will host a final whitepaper documenting the findings of the initial development phase, assessing major successes and unfinished work, and posting refined wireframes. These findings will also be shared and the refined wireframes demonstrated at the World Shakespeare Congress in Prague, Czechoslovakia in Summer 2011.

Exploring partnerships

August 2010-December 2010

A key goal of this startup phase is finding and negotiating with launch partners, public archives whose digital holdings would be federated with CWSO, redressing the predominant “siloing” of separate digital archives that cannot be cross-searched. The Advisory Forum recommended we identify a small set of archive partners for early development, ideally representing different kinds of holdings and technical challenges and opportunities. The co-directors initiated a series of meetings with curators and development officers at a number of high-profile research and performance archives in the UK and US. We demonstrated the wireframes and explored potential models, challenges and benefits of federated searching. In this period we also pursued discussions with digital performance archives and with two potential sets of partners for the “theater” edition. Among the most important benefits to prospective public archives of federated searching would be the unique opportunity for students, teachers, and scholars to access their holdings through Shakespeare’s works themselves – with the primary texts as a richly tagged gateway. Prospective partners were generally receptive to the hybrid access model. Among the most significant challenges identified were the complex, even immobilizing rights-clearance challenges posed by video holdings in the UK.

The result of these meetings has been commitments in principle by four internationally-recognized research insittutions to make digital files of their holdings (book pages, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and where possible sound files and video files) directly available through searches within CWSO. These partners have agreed to join with CWSO in further grant applications toward technical development that will make such federated searching possible.

Feedback on the concept

July 2010-October 2010

A key premise of this initiative is that the core functions of an international resource must be tested among users from multiple countries, language groups, and scholarly cultures. The wireframes for CWSO were demonstrated before a large international audience of scholars the International Shakespeare Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and at the Shakespeare Society of Japan in Fukuoka, Japan. General enthusiasm for CWSO as well as specific suggestions for users’ interfaces and content, were generated. Feedback in Stratford focused particularly on the theater edition and questions of intellectual property (for video access, for user-generated content). Among the major topics discussed among participants and auditors in Fukuoka were challenges of sustainability and rigor, including editorial models for future growth of resources such as CWSO, once they are in use. Possible answers to these questions will be a major consideration in the final phase of the NEH Digital Humanities Start-up Grant for CWSO.

Development of wireframes

April 2010-June 2010

A practical result of the January forum was Cambridge University Press’s taking on the task of developing wireframes that could be used in presenting CWSO to potential collaborators and potential users. Intensive work on these wireframes, by an international team, went on during spring 2010, so that a demonstration model was available for presentations in the UK and in Japan during summer and fall 2010.

Conceptualizing the CWSO

Jan-April 2010

A three-day advisory forum at the University of Southern California in January 2010 that drew on the expertise of seventeen participants from the UK, Germany, and the USA to produce the design plan that now governs the project. The result of three days of reports from developers of similar projects, suggestions from potential users of CWSO, brainstorming sessions, break-out groups, and input from the commissioning editors and the chief digital development manager at Cambridge University Press is a design that includes the following core concepts:

  1. a hybrid business model organized around dual editions; a “home edition” (free and open access to “flat”, low-dynamic content) and a “professional edition” (expanded and fully dynamic content);
  2. playtexts as a gateway to archive and reference content;
  3. “theater edition”: dynamic, portable, customizable playtexts;
  4. federated workspace for public archives;
  5. small group of launch partner archives with whom to develop key functionalities.

Reference content development


Reference content for CWSO consists of The Cambridge World Shakespeare Encyclopedia (CWSE). Macro and micro articles have been commissioned by the editorial board. Submission, editing, coordination of articles continues through 2011.