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
The Green European Journal has published a package on the proposed new European Copyright Directive: first, an outstanding interview with the rebel Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda (previously); and then a new science fiction story I've written to show what a future where our speech is governed by unaccountable black-box copyright censorbots might look like: […]
The Alien Chestburster Christmas Ornament is just the thing to finish your nerdmas tree; it's from Pittsburgh's Creature Replicas, who will also sell you a life-size 'burster, a fossil Tremors graboid, or some damned fine Aliens magnets.
Here's my reading (MP3) of my Locus column, "What is the Internet For?" (which asks, "Is the internet a revolutionary technology?") and my short story for the fiftieth anniversary of Reason Magazine, Sole and Despotic Dominion, which builds on my 2015 Guardian column, If Dishwashers Were iPhones. MP3
For the true audio enthusiast, there’s a lot of difference between putting on some songs “for background music” and a true listening experience. For the latter, there’s nothing like a pair of sturdy headphones and the powerful speakers that come with them. And the wireless variety doesn’t get much more powerful than the TREBLAB Z2 […]
Digital or analog, there’s a path of least resistance for any project. Finding that path is what the Agile methodology is all about, which is why proficiency in it is a must for any project management position – and the paycheck that comes with it. And the quickest path to learning Agile? The Agile Project […]
Everybody’s flown a paper airplane. But what if you could fly on a paper airplane? Until we invent shrink-ray technology, the PowerUp X FPV Video Paper Airplane Kit will have to do – but it’s as fun as that sounds and more. The original version of this creative toy added drone tech to the old, […]