How does Oxford spell change? d-i-g-i-t-a-l

Another one bites the dust, or rather, the dust-jacket. The good people responsible for the Oxford Dictionary are talking about eliminating the printed edition of the reference staple. This comes on the heels of USA Today announcing they wanted to shift away from print last week and notable authors announcing their desire to abandon traditional publishers earlier this month. These are the growing pains and the headlines we can expect over the next several years as the digital space continues to evolve.

Importantly, we can’t focus on the delivery device; instead, we must focus on the content. As we continue to make the transition to a digital world, it has become increasingly evident that content is king. Many already be mourning the loss of traditional staples like the print dictionary (note: Oxford hasn’t definitively confirmed they’ll do this, they’re just thinking about it right now), but perhaps it’s more so a cause for celebration. I’ll admit, the print edition does have a few advantages, particularly its satisfying thud when it hits the floor. But that aside, this is a great time for resource accessibility. The Oxford University Press will still provide the tremendous detail it always has and words won’t lose their meaning. The full text, which costs over $1000 and is only available at certain libraries, will now be easier than ever to access thanks to the net. We’re not losing a reference tool; rather, we are gaining tremendous access to even more valuable content! In fact, I now predict that even games of Scrabble will never be the same. Instead of arguing over what version of the dictionary you may have handy, now challengers (like my sister) will have little room to question if “aughts” is a word thanks to Oxford’s potential digital expansion (and our always at-the-ready access to our smart phones and other mobile devices).

By Jim Nichols, Digital Strategist, Stern+Associates

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