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.
OUP – which has been selling dictionaries and thesauri since the 19th century – will not sell you a digital OED or HTOED. Not for any price.
Instead, these books are rented by the month, accessed via the internet by logged-in users. If you stop paying, your access to these books is terminated.
I mentioned this to some librarians at the American Library Association conference in Chicago this spring and they all said, effectively: "Welcome to the club. This is what we have to put up with all the time."
Oxford English Dictionary – the future
Nothing conjures up the eldritch geometries that are the secret fuel of Disney's Haunted Mansion like the hair-pulling geometrical puzzles posed by Ikea assembly instructions: hence, Spöke Håus, $20 and up on Teefury, proving once again that trademark violation is your best entertainment dollar.
[My EFF colleague Katharine is back with a very important message about a singularly stupid and dangerous legislative proposal that is steamrolling through Congress; even by the standards of stupid and dangerous Congressional copyright rules, this one is an exception -Cory] Every year, for a couple of years now, Congress has debated passing some version […]
In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my Green European Journal short story about the terrible European Copyright Directive which passed last March, False Flag. Published in December 2018, the story highlights the ways in which this badly considered law creates unlimited opportunities for abuse, especially censorship by corporations who've been embarassed by whistleblowers and […]
In recent years, natural language processing technology and language translation technology have advanced greatly. The trouble is, language translation software typically comes in the form of apps. And while your mileage may vary on their usefulness, they share one thing in common: a serious drain on the battery for your smartphone, the very thing you’ll […]
Treat yourself, internet: We’ve rounded up some deals from the past week that were too good not to bring back for an encore. Take your pick from home goods, massagers and other tech, all at serious discounts. TREBLAB Z2 Bluetooth 5.0 Noise-Cancelling Headphones Get in the groove and stay that way with these headphones and […]
As cool as your smartphone is, it can’t do everything. When a job requires a little elbow grease, a multitool is a great thing to have around – and might just save your life in the right situation. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest multitool designs, which have come a long way since […]