Exciting But Risky

by Alice

When was the last time you picked up a dictionary and looked up a word?

Actually, I  did this yesterday, but that’s because I have about 70 of them on the shelves of my desk.

I’ve always loved dictionaries. They hold a list of the little pieces that we use to create stories, draft contracts, post LOST DOG signs, talk on the phone.

In the age of Google, dictionaries are a bit constrained.  While language naturally evolves and expands, dictionaries are bound to a certain number of words, of pages.

But I still like dictionaries. And I think I want to help them keep up with language and technology.

Wordnik , among other similar sites, is doing this pretty well, but with a few key problems:

  • Misspelled words
  • Foreign words, which have no definition listed because the site’s definitions are based on English dictionaries
  • Not enough time/staff to keep up with the words

And perhaps the biggest problem with sites like this:

  • No profit

How to make a profit on words in a digital world without overwhelming viewers with advertising? As my boss says, it’s an interesting business problem. Exciting but risky.

I see memoirs, self-help books, philosophy essays on TV shows, and other “infotainment” literature fly through the files on my computer on a regular basis, but the dictionary stuff makes me think the most. Maybe I can save them…