We’ve been doing more work on the Open Shakespeare project with the result that a new version (v0.4) is ready for release (full details including the Changelog can be found below). For those unfamiliar with the project, Open Shakespeare has two basic aims.

First, to provide a simple but compelling open knowledge exemplar — and to show some of the complexities in producing open knowledge. For example, simply getting a good open set of Shakespeare’s work involves some degree of effort: Project Gutenberg has 4 versions of most of Shakespeare, two of those four versions are copyrighted (and all Gutenberg texts have Gutenberg headers and footers that need to be removed). Next those out-of-copyright texts you can find are not always ‘socially open’, that is easy to access and download (particularly in an automatable manner). Finally, the texts that are available aren’t necessarily technologically open so work has to be done to put them into open, machine processable formats (plain text/xml etc).

The second basic aim of Open Shakespeare is to illustrate real-world knowledge packaging — all the Open Shakespeare material is available in a single (python) bundle that can be automatically downloaded and ‘installed’. Furthermore, every effort is made to make the material as reusable as possible and there’s a full programmatic API together with ancillary tools: our main aim is not to provide another Shakespeare website but to provide the tools and material to allow others to build their own applications and websites. While we have created a simple site using the material we’ve gathered its purpose will be to showcase what can be done and to encourage others to use our work in ways we haven’t even considered.

Release Announcement

A new version of open shakespeare is out. Get it via the code page:



Outstanding Issues

  • Annotation cannot handle long texts because of javascript performance

About Open Shakespeare

A full open set of Shakespeare’s works along with anciallary material, a
variety of tools and a python API.

For more information see the about page:


Get involved: http://www.openshakespeare.org/participate/

Mailing list: http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/okfn-discuss/

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.