Thursday News: Shakespeare’s alleged dictionary digitized, cellphones increase literacy, Amazon Prime now includes some HBO shows, and the arrival of e-book art
Shakespeare’s Dictionary? Skepticism Abounds. – Count me in on the side of the skeptics. Two booksellers buy a 1580 four-language dictionary on eBay (eBay!!) in 2008, and now claim that it’s Shakespeare’s personal dictionary. If you want to know about the authentication process that will now be undertaken, check out this article in the Chronicle. If you want to see the digitized dictionary, check it out here.
In addition to analyzing the handwriting and marginal marks used by the annotator, the Folger experts wrote, researchers will ask questions like “How many of the words underlined or added in the margins of this copy of the Alvearie are used by Shakespeare and Shakespeare alone, as opposed to other early-modern writers? Further, how many of the words that are not marked or underlined in this copy of Baret are nevertheless present in Shakespeare’s works?” –Chronicle of Higher Education
Cellphones ignite a ‘reading revolution’ in poor countries – UNESCO has released their report based on an enormous, and enormously comprehensive, international study on the effect of cellphone use on digital reading. The study included “nearly 5,000 mobile-phone users in seven countries — Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe — where the average illiteracy rate among children is 20 percent, and 34 percent among adults.” These rates are anywhere from 7 to 10 times higher than the illiteracy rate in the US, to give you a point of comparison. Among other things, the study found that cellphone use can build literacy skills and enjoyment of reading (and clearly these two things are related). Women are particularly drawn to digital reading, which, given their disproportionately high illiteracy rates, holds incredible potential.
“Simply put, once women are exposed to mobile reading, they tend to do it a lot,” the report reads, underscoring the potential benefits that digital books could yield for female literacy. Among the estimated 770 million illiterate adults in the world today, nearly two-thirds are women, and female education still carries a cultural stigma in many poor countries. –The Verge
Amazon Makes a Big Move, Snags Older HBO Shows for Web Streaming – This is pretty interesting, when you consider how much HBO has benefited from the innovation and popularity of its original programming. With Amazon including many original HBO shows in its Amazon Prime instant video lineup, will HBO be able to sustain its market share? Considering the fact that they did not give up shows like “Game of Thrones” suggests that subscribers (like me) will continue to pay for both services. But should a choice need to be made, it could be a toss up, considering all of the other videos Amazon users have access to. HBO has never allowed any other streaming media service access to its catalogue, and one estimate pegs the value of the shows as anywhere from $200 million to $500 million, depending on other shows HBO might allow Amazon to stream.
Some of the shows that Amazon customers won’t see, including “Sex and the City,” “Entourage” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” have their streaming rights tied up in syndication deals with TV outlets. And HBO has kept at least one of its shows – “Game of Thrones” — out of the deal, simply because the property is so valuable to the network, according to a person familiar with the transaction. –re/code
Ebook-Inspired Art: Center for Book Arts Nods at How Digital Is Changing Everything – An interesting exhibition at the Center for Book Arts that includes at least one contemplation of the way digital books can be re-conceptualized as art objects, 40 years after the Center initially opened. And really, why shouldn’t digital reading be part of the book arts? After all, digital books require a physical shell, even if it’s not paper. And there are probably now a boatload of Sony Readers available for repurposing. . .
Titled Once Upon a Time, There Was the End and curated by Rachel Gugelberger, an independent curator, the art explored repeating patterns, organic forms and the cycle of life. It also touched on digital publishing with this work:
It’s a piece by artist Ellen Harvey. It’s three plexiglass mirrors with images of e-readers and e-reading apps etched onto them, mounted onto “lumisheets” (an LED light panel) and framed in plexiglass. The piece is titled Looking-Glass iPad, Kindle & Nook and the images are reversed (like in a mirror). –Digital Book World