Networks of Deep Impression: Shakespeare and the History of Information
University of Toronto
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [The version appearing here is a draft and, at the request of the author, should not be cited. The final version of the essay will appear in Shakespeare Quarterly 61.3 (2010). A final version, suitable for citation, will be linked from this page when it appears.]
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Shakespeare’s texts have come to stand as both an ideal and a limit-case for the concept of information, which emerged from a late twentieth-century cultural formation that still dominates current thinking about the design of digital tools. This essay aims to challenge computing essentialism—the idea that computers have a single nature that we must either take or leave—by exploring the prehistory of Shakespeare and new media, particularly the postwar confluence of bibliography and information theory. By understanding this crucial episode of computing’s cultural history, we can recognize its consequences for the technologies that digital Shakespeare projects use in the present.