Sunday, November 20, 2005

Not your parent's Shakespeare

I wonder what parents and teachers will make of this.


It could be the future of Shakespeare.

Dot mobile, a British mobile phone service aimed at students, says it plans to condense classic works of literature into SMS text messages. The company claims the service will be a valuable resource for studying for exams.

Academic purists will be horrified. Hamlet's famous query, "To be or not to be, that is the question," becomes "2b? Nt2b? ???"

John Milton's epic poem "Paradise Lost" begins "devl kikd outa hevn coz jelus of jesus&strts war." ("The devil is kicked out of heaven because he is jealous of Jesus and starts a war.")

Some may dismiss the summaries as cheat notes for the attention-deficit generation, but John Sutherland, a University College London English professor who consulted on the project, said they could act as a useful memory aid.

"The educational opportunities it offers are immense," said Sutherland, who chaired the judging panel for this year's Booker Prize for fiction.

Sutherland said the compressed nature of text messages allowed them to "fillet out the important elements in a plot."

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