Prior to the availability of personal computers and CD ROM technology, an unabridged dictionary, even with just pictures, would have been impractical simply because of the physical size of the required space. Imagine the number of volumes which would be necessary to define each word and then illustrate it. With the additional clarification possible when color, sound and motion are added, obviously something other than paper must be used.
A WWW-based truly unabridged dictionary, with all the information of current printed dictionaries and the additions of audio pronunciation, color (motion) pictures (including American Sign Language), actual sound (including Morse Code), associated words defined, hierarchical notation and links to other languages is bound to happen. Some of the practical reasons why are: The size of the current unabridged dictionary makes it difficult to use by the young and the elderly; In the effort to minimize the size, the pages are thin, the type is small, abbreviations are extensive and illustration must be selective with picture credits remote and very small; Illustration in color is cost-prohibitive; Motion pictures, sound and correction impossible; New words and/or definitions added since the last edition cannot be so identified even though most of them will occur in a relatively small cluster of subjects; The length of the production cycle, coupled with the proliferation of new words and/or definitions means, at delivery, a paper-based dictionary is missing months (perhaps years?) of linguistic activity; Word translation references would add a similar-size volume for each additional language, and; it cannot be used by the sight-impaired.
Perhaps not at this time, but certainly within the next five years it will be possible for some entity to establish an all-knowledge database/guide. When extant, it may have significant value in the arena of Artificial Intelligence.
This Wh5How2 Database is an attempt to show one way it might be accomplished.
CONSIDERATION: For the sight impaired, within definitions, avoid abbreviations, contractions, possessives and acronyms as a benefit to their screen readers.
As research continues and technology advances we seem to be at just the beginning of the bell curve of words and/or objects. The only event which would produce the diminution of those items seems to be the collapse of civilization as we know it, from whatever cause. So, like the universe (the first hierarchical level), the Wh5How2 Database will continue to expand in all directions.
This link is to a Word Search.
This link is to the Homepage
This link is to Visitor Feedback.
This link is to e-mail the Webmaster.
Most of the definitions in this prototype/test are Copyright © 1943 by J. G. Ferguson and Associates, Chicago, Illinois, from The Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language.