Just read the headlines

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Estimated reading time 1–2 minutes

At UCL David Nicholas gave an interesting lecture on The Virtual Scholar. He pointed out that people are apparently now happy to make major life decisions based on the results they get from typing 1.8 words into Google (the average for a search).

The information society is not much good if no-one is actually gaining any real knowledge. Do diminishing attention spans mean that we are happy just to flick through a few headlines that confirm our existing prejudices? It’s an Eddie Izzard joke about being “thinly read” but don’t we still need some people to read more than just the summary? I’m as guilty as everyone else of saving a pdf to read later, while feeling that I have somehow become better informed in the process.

Welcome to Vocab Control

Estimated reading time 1–2 minutes

Welcome to my new blog. I am just starting a Master of Research degree at University College London studying taxonomies. I am now getting pretty good at explaining what they are but I’m not going to do that here. Suffice it to say that if you think I am going to write about stuffed animals or the Inland Revenue, you’re in the wrong place!

My first real encounter with taxonomical systems was during the 1990s when I worked as an editor of reference books, working on such titles as the Collins English Dictionary, the Macmillan Encyclopedia, and the Hutchinson Encyclopedia and Almanac. In between learning when to use “which” and “that” and spot a typo at 40 paces, I was assigned to the thesaurus team. Eventually, I was given the wonderful task of devising the structure for a new edition of the UK’s first fully electronically compiled general language thesaurus, for Bloomsbury. Creating a hierarchy of everything was an incredible project and left me fascinated by the grey areas and the concepts that ooze like slime moulds from one category to another.