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Why it matters that you can't own an electronic copy of the Oxford English Dictionary

In my latest Guardian column, I talk about the digital versions of the Oxford English Dictionary and the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, the two most important lexicographic references to the English language. As a writer, my print copies of the OED and HTOED are to me what an anvil is to a blacksmith; but I was disturbed to learn that the digital editions of these books are only available as monthly rentals, services that come with expansive data-collecting policies and which cannot be owned. It's especially ironic that these books are published by Oxford University, home of the Bodleian, a deposit archive and library founded in the 14th century, a symbol of the importance of enduring ownership of books.

My discussions with OUP's execs convinced me that this wasn't the result of venality or greed, but rather the unfortunate consequence of a bunch of individually reasonable decisions that added up to something rather worrying. I hope that OUP and Oxford will continue to evolve its products in a way that honours the centuries-old traditions that Oxford embodies.

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First-year criminal law course in webcomic form


Nathaniel Burney's Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law is a complete first-year Criminal Law course in comic form, in 17 parts on a Tumblr. It's clearly written, and the illustrations go a long way toward making complex ideas easier to grasp. Burney's comics have been collected between covers in a printed book, which would make a great gift for would-be criminals and anyone considering pre-law.

The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law (via MeFi)

Demonic sigils in handy form


Here's all the demonic summoning symbols you're likely to use on a daily basis, in handy flashcard form. All you need to do is print it up and stick it over your monitor, so it's handy when you need it.

A List of Several Demons and Their Sigils of Summoning

Science Fiction Encyclopedia beta online

A "beta edition" of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia's third edition (which is online-only) is up and available to the public. I served as a volunteer advisor to the project, and can't wait to see how it progresses as the millions of words' worth of canonical research finds its way online. (via Scalzi) Cory