Shakespeare & serendipity

Why use a chunk from Shakespeare’s first sonnet as my first posting?

Quick answer #1: Because he wrote so much more beautifully than I ever will.

Quick answer #2: Because I wanted a placeholder.

Not-so-quick answer #3: When working on the blog’s design, I wanted something — anything — to serve as a placeholder. Shakespeare seemed like a good idea: because I’m interested in the technical, policy, and legal problems of preserving information, Shakespeare’s works seemed a textbook example of what should be preserved.

So I found a Shakespeare website and gleefully exercised my right to copy, clip, and paste from the public domain. Sidebar: it would have been even more interesting if I had clipped from a DRM’d CD-ROM of Shakespeare’s works, but that’s another post and another day . . . .

And an admission: Although I was an english & philosophy major in my undergraduate days, it’s been a very, very long time since I thought about Shakespeare. (Notwithstanding Shakespeare in Love, which was great). Having absolutely no idea what might be relevant or useful, I simply looked at the the first thing I found, Shakespeare’s first sonnet.

But serendipity is a funny thing. Considering that I’m currently writing about digital preservation, and further considering that so much of what we electronically preserve is forgettable noise and infoglut — or digital garbage! — I thought Shakespeare’s language was a keeper. Which, of course, it is.

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