Monday, August 30, 2010

Fact, Fiction or Fictionary

It appears as though the dictionary is heading for the scrap heap!  On-line versions are so prolific that the Oxford English Dictionary will soon dwindle and die.
At least the printed version will no longer be available although you will still be able to find the words you need and print them on your own.
But is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Or is this a thing at all?
Only time will tell but as much as I hate to see something so revered go by the wayside I must admit I find myself rarely going to the hard copy when the 'ethereal' is always at my fingertips.  And with the continued assault of hand held WiFi connected portable devices the printed word is losing its battle more and more every day.
I suspect that E-Readers will soon have an "app" that allows you to highlight a word in a 'book' you are reading and request its meaning from some e-dictionary somewhere out there.
In this world where technology says, 'If you can dream it you can make it happen' the sky is the limit.
But 'caveat emptor' baby, or as modern guys say, 'careful what you wish for.'
When the hard copies of the printed word are no longer available how can we be sure that the digital word is accurate and concrete.
Given how easy it is for people to deny - deny - deny even though the things they are denying are on tape imagine what will happen when a definition is altered in the e-world of the not so distant future.  Suddenly everyone will be searching for a rare hard copy of Orwell's "1984."
If you don't think the scenario of dynamic definitions is imminent you are sadly mistaken.  The road down that path already has footprints trod on it.
Fox News has altered the meaning of the second word in its title with their non-stop obfuscation and fiction as fact methods.
They and their friends have created what I call a "Fictionary" and use or abuse the definitions therein with every tale they spin.
But even though they appear to have almost unlimited funding they are still only one voice.  Imagine when that voice is the only one you hear.
Wikipedia ran into such problems of altered or undocumented definitions and had to come up with a method for validation.  Can we expect others in the future to diligently do the same?
Relying on others to fact check can be dangerous but even with the world on the internet and the internet at our fingertips how many of us take the time to delve into a story?  There is just not enough time to do it all.
So even though the Oxford English Dictionary is going the way of 8 track tape players and polyester green leisure suits (good riddance to both of those by the way) we might be wise to keep a copy safely hidden in a humidity controlled room for future generations.

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