David Crystal & Shakespeare’s Words

Professor David Crystal, OBE, co-founder of Crystal Semantics, designer of Shakespeare’s Words website, author and linguist

Crystal Semantics Limited is an innovative Web marketing technology that makes use of Crystal’s research into semantics.  The company, launched in 2001, ‘is the result of 8 years and $8 million investment in research and its ground breaking technology harnesses human linguistic intuition” (Lexdon, n.d.) based on Crystal’s long career studying the English language.  The company uses semantic categorization to match content on websites with on-line advertising.  In addition to delivering ads with some connection to the web content, it also protects the brand name from negative or damaging connections (such as a McDonald’s ad appearing alongside an article on childhood obesity).  iSense and SiteScreen are two products developed by Crystal Reference System Limited, another company founded and chaired by David; both this and Crystal Semantics became a subsidiary of ad pepper media, which provides the content-matching service iSense.  The brand protection service, SiteScreen, is operated by Emediate ApS, also owned by ad pepper media.  The three companies are based in Europe, and offer services in 18 European languages.  With David Crystal’s dedication to linguists and semantics, he has assured that English will be the primary language of the Internet, and he is “a proponent of  a new field of studies, Internet linguistics. (Wikipedia)

More impressive is the work put into creating a free on-line resource called Shakespeare’s Words, a product of Crystal Reference System Ltd., designed in collaboration with Penguin Books, creating encyclopedia and reference databases on-line.  David and his son Ben, a professional actor, own and operate the website Shakespeare’s Words, a glossary of over 50,000 words found in the plays and poems.  Not only are all these words succinctly described and searchable on the website, but David and Ben also make full-text versions of the play and poems available, based on the New Penguin Shakespeare editions.  This huge undertaking is presented as an open learning resource, although as Murphy (2010) points out, “there is a certain amount of hard sell on the site” (p. 407) with several links to Amazon.com and PayPal, yet the plays and poems are presented ad-free and open to anyone with Internet access.  While David and his son, along with fellow linguists, scholars and colleagues – Ian Saunders, the co-founder of Crystal Semantics and Reference System was also the website administrator for the first edition of Shakespeare’s Words – the two Crystals are just as interested in the current evolution of the English language as the early modern usage from the Renaissance.  David Crystal is a world expert on semantics, and I am deeply inspired by his sustained interest and life-long career in trying to understand what other people mean.  As my two main interests in my studies of educational technology are Shakespeare and the semantic web, I will continue to pay lots of attention to the enterprising professor.

Lexdon (n.d.). Crystal Semantics announces launch of new technology to end placement of ads alongside controversial content. Retrieved on Sept 28, 2011 from http://www.lexdon.com/article/crystal_semantics_announces_launch_of/57367.html

Murphy, A. (2010). Shakespeare goes digital: Three open Internet editions. Shakespeare Quarterly 61(3), 401-414.

Posted in: Week 04: Entrepreneur Bootcamp