Steve Barnes' World of Happiness

Sir Patrick Stewart finishes reading Shakespeare's sonnets on Twitter.

Filed under "how it feels like the Internet should be" goes Sir Patrick Stewart's – now complete – reading of Shakespeare's entire collection of sonnets. (That's approximately true, as he occasionally skipped poems he "didn't like," or were "too hard," which I guessed meant too difficult to interpret.)

Sir Patrick originally broadcast a casual reading of a single sonnet online to ease the sting of quarantine for the more social, and it was so well-appreciated that he returned to read from sonnet one forward. This sequence of monosonnetary clips – "produced" by his wife from spring through early autumn – saw him working, travelling to film, taking a break to write his biography, adopting a rescue dog, and occasionally welcoming guest readers including Jonathan Frakes and Ian McKellen.

To me, this surpassed a temporary balm or an exciting nod from a celebrity whose work in Star Trek: TNG I've long respected alongside millions.

For one, it demonstrated Stewart's personality and passion in a way his acting couldn't have. It seems probable his background in Shakesperian theatre influenced Picard's own literacy, giving the series' soul an enriching connection to the version of Earth's history known to its viewers. But even actors of Stewart's class can reveal themselves as purely occupational, leaving their work – and their enthusiasm for it – at the set's door.

Stewart revealed instead that he's an actor through and through, which I think basically means he sincerely enjoys it, dwells on it. His interpretations of Shakespeare in particular (an author I've seldom found accessible, and often boring) evince his idea of his task as reader: like an inspired teacher or translator, to deliver every word heavy in his voice and face, with an emotional weight that guides even newcomers from cluelessness to, if not the fully demystified meaning, a reasonable guess.

Secondly, back to "how it feels like the Internet should be." I really should think of a better word for this special and rare quality so much commoner toward the Internet's infantile stage, as it's important to recognize in today's metropolis-packed online universe. When the Internet is simply used to bridge imaginations – to let distant minds connect as though by holodeck or a transporter; for example, to visit a hospitable Patrick Stewart to listen to poetry for a few of minutes each day – lives have been slightly better lived.

Patrick Stewart will admit he predates the Internet, yet has surpassed most of the public in using it well by this simple gesture. Even more unlikely, he accomplished all this on Twitter, known to pass between its users at least as much junk as value.

I should only hope to use a future technology in such a meaningful way to its users' generations. More primarily, though, I hope that spirit reclaims its role as the foundation that inspires technology.