15.456 rationale of e-text

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Wed Jan 16 2002 - 01:30:54 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 456.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 06:25:32 +0000
             From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com>
             Subject: Re: 15.453 metaphors of education and research

    Willard, your story of the encyclopedia shows much of the way I feel
    about the matter: the 4th edition of the American Heritage Unabridged
    Dictionary is on line and available for free through Bartleby. It's a
    good reference work with two invaluable (well, to a historical
    philologist, anyway) appendices on Indo-European word roots and on
    Semitic word roots.

    I so sue the on-line once in a while, but I ws very happy buying my own
    copy of the book, for much the same reasons ars your friend. I don't
    use a dictionary just to find out one thing about one word -- some of
    the most useful things I know about language come from paging through
    the book looking for the word I want, and I can never put a good
    dictionary down without browsing both in the vicinity and by flipping
    pages at random.

    Apparently the folks who programmed the AHD don't get it. I can look up
    a word and get the info --even the I-E material. But that's all.

    I also own the Middle English Dictionary, and similarly, while I can
    look up a word on-line in t he MED, I'd much rather pick up my own copy
    of the relevant fascicle, for the same reasons.

    The one advantage the on-line MED has is the ability to search for all
    instances of a given word, not only in main entries, but anywhere in the
    work. That's wonderful. But I see no reason to clear off the two feet
    of shelf space the print MED takes, and I would lose a lot of randomly
    accessed information if I did that.

    In fact, search capabilities are the ONLY reason I can imagine for
    having any book in electronic form.....

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