Sunday, September 21, 2008

Worder or Wordia

Wordia.com is an experience which given the appeal of sites such as Wikipedia is bound to be a success and at the same time also derided by most of the literary establishment. It was launched ironically on the 299th birthday of the lexicographer Samuel Johnson and is being funded by social network Bebo, founder Michael Birch.

Wordia allows anybody to make a video of themselves defining a word. The video is uploaded along with the dictionary definition and the result is a weird personal rendition of a word. At first it may sound unnecessary to add this extra dimension but having seen several videos it starts to become quirky and adds something interesting and novel that escapes that dry written dictionary.

Try ‘tantamount’ featuring Jon Holmes, no dictionary would have described the word this way which is what is so compelling. They seemed to have got many submissions from people at the recent Edinburgh festival. These include words such as; ginger, bottom feeder, banana, marshmallow. Also check out alopecia, nascent, crustacean.

The project depends on people adding words and bringing something to the dictionary.

However, not everyone is a supporter, as evidenced by Philip Howard's in the Times. ‘This notion of compiling a 'democratic' dictionary is batty. The meaning of words is not a game of Big Brother Scrabble for Beginners on Multimedia Online. To allow celebrities, sports stars, comedians and entertainers—every Tom, Dick and Mary—to define the language is to invite the idiots into the library carrels.’

But Wordia may just be fun and help us all extend our language!!

2 comments:

Maria said...

I love it! People who confuse this with "regular" contributions for an on line dictionary have missed the point completely. I think it pays tribute to a poetical notion of the word, meaning a highly subjective view of any given word that doesn't comply with the objectivity of a dictionary. It's interesting to see how we are changing our focus from a narrative way of looking at ourselves (more conected with time) to a more poetic one (more conected with space, hence the hypertext). At least, that's my theory!

Anonymous said...

Philip Howard's words are those of a twat.

[Edit]: last word should be 'twit'.