Shakespeare literay works …

given the Facebook-syle news feed treatment.

About a year or so ago there was an amusing bit of writing circulating on the Web that deconstructed Shakepeare’s “Hamlet” into a series of Facebook-styled newsfeeds.

Written by Sarah Schmelling, the piece imagined humorous status updates and activities “Hamlet” characters might have posted on Facebook, had there been such a thing in 14th-century Denmark.

Some of the more cheeky zingers included, “Hamlet wonders if he should continue to exist. Or not”; “Ophelia removed ‘moody princes’ from her interests”; and “Ophelia joined the group Maidens Who Don’t Float.”

Click here to find out more!

That last activity from Ophelia is now the title of a book by Schmelling, published by Penguin Books, that gives this Facebook news-update treatment to other literary works. And, in a fine bit of technology synergy, that book just so happens to be available for Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle.

So goes the state of the book industry in this, the golden age of technology — clever memes are reducing fine literature into Facebook news-feed updates and Kindle e-readers are replacing our beloved, dog-eared paperbacks.

These technology-influenced changes to what we read and how we read have book experts and sociologists raising an alarm about whether all of this technology is really a good thing. A panel at the 2009 Brooklyn Book Festival in New York City that included Schmelling recently tackled this topic.

To be fair, there have been and likely always will be humorous or gimmick-oriented books on the market to appeal to the demographic that doesn’t have the time or inclination to sit down and devote itself to a more weighty tome — or to inspire those folks to take themselves a bit less seriously. And Kindles have been available for nearly two years now and people are still, so far, buying paper-based books.

Perhaps a lesson of how literature and technology can find a happy medium is ultimately found back where we started, with Schmelling’s humorous “Hamlet” piece. The item appeared on the Web site of McSweeneys, a literary journal spun off from a nonprofit organization started in San Francisco by award-winning author and memoirist Dave Eggers.

That organization — 826 National — is devoted to setting up free tutoring and writing instruction for kids aged six to 18 and to encouraging them to appreciate literature and write creatively. 826 National also works with local schools and teachers in its seven locations to help get students excited about writing, and produces student writing, film and other creative projects.

Click here to find out more!

If an organization devoted to getting kids to appreciate literature and create it themselves sees fit to poke fun at Hamlet using the world’s largest online social network as its theater, perhaps there is a place where even the most stubborn, bespectacled literary purist as well as the most rabid, Kindle-wielding techno-enthusiast can find some common ground. (Source: To Kindle or Not to Kindle –

Go read the whole thing.  Very interesting.

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About brvanlanen

Just a thirty-something guy currently hanging it up in the greater Green Bay area. My post-high school educational background is mainly in the Information Technology field. Specifically I have an A.A.S. in Computer Network Systems and a B.S. in Information Systems Security, both from ITT Technical Institute, in addition to A and MCDST certifications. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking and sports. My Christian faith is also important to me as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran and all my children attend a Lutheran grade school. When it comes to political leanings I am a conservative first and foremost which you will discover rather quickly. As for sports I am a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers.

Posted on September 20, 2009, in e-reader, Facebook, Technology News, Web and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Shakespeare literay works ….

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