D8 Tech Demo: Wordnik

What does it all mean? For nine million words of the English language, Wordnik delivers more than a definition. Founded by Erin McKean, the former editor in chief of The New Oxford American Dictionary, Wordnik claims to have the word’s most complete map of the language you are currently reading.

McKean will demo Smartwords, an open standard for sharing information about words. She has partnered with several major media organizations in hopes that Smartwords can expand and enhance users’ experiences with e?books, digital content and e?readers.

Below, video of the demo, followed by the liveblog.


Wordnik is up to tell us a little more about Smartwords.

11:45 am: Walt takes the stage and introduces Erin McKean of Wordnik.

11:47 am: McKean wanted to be a lexicographer, thanks to an article in The Wall Street Journal, she says.

She says that words need to be converted from “dumb strings” to “smart things.”

She brings out an iPad and opens an app that automatically generates a glossary for Scientific American.

11:49 am: She says journalists make very user-friendly definitions of words–much better than dictionaries. She opens an e-reader app and shows a pop-up that gives an explanation of the word as a concept, in context. She says it is based in HTML5.

11:51 am: Inside the pop-up, there are options to buy things that are related to words that are explained.

Options are there to purchase books on searched concepts or subscribe to newspapers that are partners to supply definitions.

Walt asks if she will take a cut of the book sales or subscription fees. McKean says she’s not the monetization person.

11:54 am: McKean now shows a study tool that forces kids to learn new words in books they want to read. The page won’t turn until you answer a question about an SAT-level word on the page.

11:55 am: McKean thanks Walt and Kara and bounds off stage. Demo over.

A note about our coverage: This liveblog is not an official transcript of the conversation that occurred onstage. Rather, it is a compilation of quotes, paraphrased statements and ad-lib observations written and posted to the Web as quickly as possible. It is not intended as a transcript and should not be interpreted as one.

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