Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Plagiarism software finds Shakespeare

THE 400-year-old mystery of whether William Shakespeare was the author of an unattributed play about Edward III may have been solved by a computer program designed to detect plagiarism. Software such as this is normally used to catch cheating college students. However, it has come in handy as a tool for scholars looking to research historical texts.
Sir Brian Vickers, an authority on Shakespeare at the Institute of English Studies at the University of London, believes that a comparison of phrases used in The Reign of King Edward III with Shakespeare's early works proves conclusively that the Bard wrote the play in collaboration with Thomas Kyd, one of the most popular playwrights of his day.
The professor used software called Pl@giarism, developed by the University of Maastricht to detect cheating students, to compare language used in Edward III - published anonymously in 1596, when Shakespeare was 32 - with other plays of the period.
It is interesting to note that software like this is readily available to professors and publishers alike. It can save an author and publisher future legal problems.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Should some books be removed from libraries?

This is a question that has circulated for as long as I can remember. Here is a link to a well thought out response to this question.
A woman strongly opposes a book which is shelved in the children's section of the library. It deals with gay marriage. The response covers all bases of the woman's concerns. I have to agree that if you do not like a subject, it does not mean it should be removed. Should we homogenize our books stores and libraries? I understand that adult information should be kept from children. I mean who wants our children exposed to x rated material? Common sense should prevail when categorizing such material. The subject matter at the center of this particular complaint covers gay marriage which, like it or not, is part of today's society. If a child is removed from such controversial realities, is it a good idea? The child will grow up totally ignorant of such things. When they become independent adults they are in for quite a shock. If the mother strongly disagrees (or agrees) with something, then discuss the topic with the child instead of hiding it. Give the child intelligent facts on the subject. This way the child is equipped with valuable information in order to deal with the world. Otherwise, the child will eventually go out in the world totally unprepared to deal with life's nuances.