Shakespeare and the Internet

I’m a technologist raised in the humanities, so when the worlds of tech and art overlap I sometimes notice life imitating art and so on.

When I recently read Bill Bryson’s non-fiction account of Shakespeare’s life (Shakespeare: The World as Stage) two things stuck out to me: First, that we know very little about shakespeare really (this was the thesis of the book I would say). And secondly, there were NO RULES when it came to spelling back then.

Bryson points out some hilarious coincidences where words and names are spelled differently inside the same text, or even 4 different ways on the same page. And this made me think of a different renaissance happening today, and how spelling doesn’t seem to matter anymore in the tech landscape:
Tumblr, Reddit, Unbxd, Lyft, and even the rebranding of the SyFy network.
I read here that Jack Bovill, Chair of the English Spelling Society, said: “Accurate spelling is of the utmost importance, but from this most recent survey we can conclude that the unprecedented reach and scale of the internet has given rise to new social practices and it is now an agent in spelling change.”
Jack is concerned about spelling, I don’t think I am tho. I try to spell things in a way that communicates best (which usually means spelling them “right”) but I do believe we are getting something great out of internet culture despite the “misspellings.” And while the internet and Shakespeare seem pretty different, they are both the reflections of their current age, flaws and all.