Friday, June 11, 2004

A Day in the Life of the OED

I came across an interesting read while trawling the Internet (and diligently procrastinating). It's a review of one particular day in the life of the Oxford English Dictionary: April 19, 2004. The editor collected a series of anecdotes about what various staff members were doing. It seemed relevant to our recent class discussion for a number of reasons: 1- it contains stories of what humanities scholars do; 2- we see how people really interact with information systems; 3- I noticed that a lot of work isn't actually research but related to infrastructure e.g., publishing, marketing, etc.; and 4- the piece really documents the construction of knowledge in an archaeological sense e.g., Andreas Groeger, Assistant Editor basically constructs the etymology of "panzer" that will be reified in the OED.

Interesting stuff.

Here's the link to the article:

If you're not convinced, here's the editor's introduction:

Most of the articles that have appeared in previous issues of OED News have focused on a single aspect of the work that goes into creating the Dictionary. In this issue I would like to offer something a little different: a snapshot of some of the things going on in all parts of the project on a single day. I picked Monday 19 April entirely at random, and asked my colleagues to write me something about what they had done that day; it could be a description of the whole day's work, or of a single piece of work which seemed worth picking out. What follows is only a selection of the contributions I received, and does not, indeed could not, cover anything like the full range of tasks being carried out on that day. There is no account, for example, of the activities of our researchers working in libraries around the world, or of the many external consultants who comment on entries in particular subject areas, or of the research being done in the OED archives, or even of the mundane but essential business of filing away the quotation slips which flow into and around the OED office every day. Nevertheless, I hope the picture that emerges proves an interesting one.


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