On February 12, 2014, Peter Sokolowski will be featured at the New York Public Library's author@the library series--6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Mid-Manhattan Library.
The Dictionary as Data: What the Online Dictionary Tells Us About English, with Peter A. Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, Inc.
What makes a person look up a word? When do you use a dictionary? Looking up a word in the dictionary is an intimate act for each of us as individuals, but the words sought by millions of users put together tell us a surprising story about the English language. By watching trends of lookups on a heavily consulted online dictionary, lexicographers track which entries are being consulted at any given moment. Some words are perennial sources of curiosity, while others show spikes of interest triggered by news from the worlds of politics, entertainment, and sports. Some words express the general mood of the culture; others reflect a poignant specificity. At the same time, this Web traffic tells a story about the changing business of dictionaries -- and what is expected of a dictionary in the 21st century.
For further details (including map), see http://www.nypl.org/locations/tid/45/node/230032