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Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Thu Sep 27 16:42:17 UTC 2001

On 9/27/01 07:12, "Frank Abate" <abatefr at> wrote:

> Lynne M makes a good point.  One problem is that in the noncollege
> classroom, one has to get the attention of kids who likely are more used to
> looking things up online, not in books.

I wish that this were true for my classmates at Columbia. Many of them don't
know that they have through their costly tuition free access to the OED
online, Lexis-Nexis, Dow Jones, JSTOR and many other fee-based online
services. What they typically do is an unsophisticated, unrefined search in
whatever search engine is the browser default and take the first source that
looks good.

So, Frank, I would amend your point and say, "kids who likely are more used
to looking things up online, without discretion as to the quality or primacy
of the source, and not in books." For the average Internet user, books will
win on quality every time.

> I tend to look things up a lot in my work, and have been at it for a while,
> going back to high school.  I am pretty fast it at by now, but I still
> believe that 8 times out of 10, one can find a specific alphabetic entry
> faster in a book than in an electronic dictionary, even if it is open in the
> background on one's computer.

I prefer books, too, but I work away from my shelves much of the time. One
of my favorite tools for looking up quick definitions and spellings online
is MacDICT, which uses the DICT protocol to search across multiple
dictionaries and reference works, including Webster's Revised Unabridged
Dictionary Version published 1913, the Elements Database, the WordNet
database, the US Gazetteer Place and Zipcode Files from the US Census, the
Jargon File, the Free Online Dictionary of Computing, Easton's 1897 Bible
Dictionary, Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary, the Devil's Dictionary (my
favorite), the CIA World Factbook, and the VERA list of computational

About the DICT dictionary protocol:

including a list of client software for various platforms:

My preferred DICT client for Macintosh computers:


Grant Barrett
gbarrett at
New York Loves You Back

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