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About the project Edit

Launched in October 2008, Wordia is a visual dictionary that encourages members of the public to contribute to a collective pool of video definitions. As with any online dictionary, users can search for the traditional meaning of a word thanks to the involvement of HarperCollins with 76,000 words and 120,000 basic textual definitions. But appended to an increasing number of those traditional definitions are videos--both professionally produced and user-generated--expressing individuals' own, personal meanings for the words in question. For example under the word "purple," two young "orators" tell you that it means "wacky... and kinda deep and mysterious... spiritual... agitated... royal... eggplant?". Powered by YouTube and supported by the Open University and the National Literacy Trust, the ad-funded site also lets users rate and comment on videos.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Just like Wikipedia changed the encyclopedia with its online format and user-contributed content, this new digital dictionary hopes to change the way the world articulates and understands the meanings of words.[1] Wordia is a new kind of dictionary - a democratic ‘visual dictionary’. A place where anyone with a video, webcam or mobile phone can define the words that matter to them in their life.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

There's certainly a distinct entertainment value to searching through Wordia's video definitions, which may even be able to reflect nuances and modern interpretations of words in ways traditional definitions can't. The site's founders explain: "We've found that this visualisation works; place a word into context visually and it helps you to recollect its meaning much more easily then a textual definition. The 'author' breathes life into it--and their video acts as an easy-to-remember reference--an aide memoire or mnemonic as it were."

Some parties in the UK have argued Wordia's democratic approach will undermine the quality of the definitions. After all, even Wikipedia relies on citations, references and volunteer editors to maintain at least some level of credibility and authoritativeness; relying on everyday users to define language in a purely subjective way risks severing the connection with the words' true, objective meanings.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Wordia is currently available only in English but could be potentially translated in other languages.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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