Posts filed under ‘Meaning of Everything’

The OED is a wiki

While reading “The Meaning of Everything” by Winchester, I thought the collaborative approach to finding quotations awfully similar to wiki-ness.  Someone else thinks so:

“Diamond said the new Internet-age concept of “wiki” fits well with the 120-year-old dictionary’s own methods.

“Its long tradition of working on collaborative principles means it has welcomed the contribution of information and quotation evidence form[sic] the public over 150 years,” he said.””


March 16, 2007 at 9:30 pm Leave a comment

More thought on Google Pages

Thinking more about Google Pages, I think I get the idea.  Consider, there are a couple ways to help people find information.  One way is ‘search’ and using relevance and PageRank; Google’s got that down pretty well.  The other is to have an index, a hierarchical grouping of categories to browse, like the Dewey decimal system or Yahoo directory.  The former works well, but you’re often faced with millions of “relevant” hits.  The latter doesn’t scale well, as it takes a lot of people to come up with the taxonomy, but the provided results might be very relevant, and you’re only faced with, perhaps, the most relevant, as filtered by experts. 

I think Google is trying to harvest the work of the masses, the Wisdom of Crowds, the work they put into creating Google pages – putting *words* next to *links* – to improve the relevance of search.  They *own* the pages.  More food for the googlemonster. 

I am reminded of the collaborative approach undertaken with the development of The New Dictionary, what became the Oxford English Dictionary as described in the book The Meaning of Everything.  While Google Pages are presented as a way for people to easily create a web presence, I think this is another way for Google to enlist the masses in efforts to improve their service.  

I think this is why the service is so bare bones.  The more bells and whistles, the less it might appeal to folks new to authoring.  The real goal might be described as a way to push us toward Web 3.0 which I’ve defined as the point where the web’s author:user ratio becomes 1:1.  Again. 

How is this different than their analogous use of Blogger?  Maybe it appeals to different people?  Maybe there is a difference between semi-static content on webpages and the dynamic time flux of a blog? 

Some of the comments at PC World echo these ideas.


Also, at Google Pages, they say, “The pages you create can be crawled by Google within a few hours of publication. ”  There’s probably some interesting info on the terms of use too.

February 28, 2006 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment

More Meaning of Everything Notes

P.43 …of fairy-tale fame, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm wrote sinister children’s stories as well as dictionaries.

P.53 On the Wikipedia-style of work first suggested for the New Dictionary, a group of 147 volunteer readers were first organized.  Unfortunately after a time only 89 were still working – the rest had lost their enthusiasm.  Of the 89, 30 were first-rate, 15 were inferior, and 44 hadn’t done enough to judge!

p.95 Samual Johnson wrote in the preface of his dictionary, “…that to search was not always to find, and to find was not always to be informed; and that thus to pursue perfection, was, like the first inhabitants of Arcadia, to chase the sun, which when they had reached the hill where he seemed to rest, was still beheld at the same distance from them.


February 16, 2006 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Notes from The Meaning of Everything

I finished the text of The meaning of everything, Simon Winchester. When you get right down to it, this is a real story, the real story of knowledge management: the creation of a dictionary. Everything else depends on words.

In the prologue, which starts the story of creating the Oxford English Dictionary with the end (though not the end, as we learn), it was interesting to learn of the people attending this congratulatory dinner celebrating the completion of the dictionary after 70 years of work. Of note, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sir Rutherford (of the atoms).

P. 29 “…English is language that cannot be fixed [unchanging]…dictionaries cannot be prescriptive; they must always be descriptive, telling of the language as it is, not as it should be.”

p.32 Ambrose Bierce’ s “the Devil’s Dictionary”

p. 41 As I mentioned before, the scope of the New Dictionary project was amazing: a dictionary of the English language in its totality…discovery of every single word…from all literature (ALL)…every sense, every meaning…a complete inventory of the language…every single word’s etymology…every variant spelling…a full length biography including its birth=”The New English Dictionary.” This proposal was put forth by the Dean of Westminster, Richard C. Trench.

February 9, 2006 at 3:34 pm Leave a comment

The Meaning of Everything

I started reading The Meaning of Everything, by Simon Winchester.  I was struck, while reading at how ‘wikipedia-like’ the original proposal of creating the dictionary was.  The goal was to capture every meaning and usage of every English word as well as each word’s complete ‘biography.’  The scope is unimaginable, until, as they did, you suggest that while it might take one man a hundred lifetimes, it would take a hundred men one lifetime, or a thousand men a few years.  Or something to that effect.  Reminds me of discussion of wikipedia and the scale of the work.  Some comments from Many2Many an interesting looking site.  Still reading.

February 1, 2006 at 4:54 pm 1 comment

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