Archive Graphic

Please Note: The content on this page is not maintained after the colloquium event is completed.  As such, some links may no longer be functional.

Download Adobe PDF Reader

Erin McKean Erin McKean
How To Make a Massively Multiplayer Dictionary

Friday, October 7, 2011
Building 3 Auditorium - 3:30 PM

Dictionaries have long been team efforts (even supposedly lone wolf lexicographers such as Samuel Johnson employed a staff) -- but on the order of dozens or scores of people, not thousands and millions. Our friend the Internet (thanks DARPA!) has made it possible to take advantage of the expertise (or even merely the opinions) of those thousands and millions, often in ways which require little to no explicit participation. Is this worth doing? What does it mean for the "authority" of a dictionary created in this way? And how do we get all those folks to "play nice"?

Erin McKean likes to call herself a Dictionary Evangelist. She is the founder of She was the editor in chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary, 2e, and is the author of Weird and Wonderful Words, More Weird and Wonderful Words, Totally Weird and Wonderful Words, and That's Amore (also about words). Her first novel, The Secret Lives of Dresses, was published by GrandCentral/5Spot in February 2011. She recently moved from Chicago to the Bay Area, rants about dresses on her blog (A Dress A Day), and she's actually really bad at Scrabble (but surprisingly good at roller-skating).
Science Colloquium Committee Host: Hans Krimm

Sign language interpreter upon request: 301-286-7040
Request future announcements