Dictionares in the library

A&T are each strolling in the library - they meet.

Achilles: Ah, Mr. Tortoise, I thought I might find you in the library

T: And a very nice library it is too, Achilles.

A: Thank you. It was a communal effort. As were the books. There are so many
really beautiful books in the library.

T: And now we have dictionaries!

A: Yes, dictionaries are very important to me, Mr.. Tortoise. I want to use
them to understand what some of those books mean.

T: Let's not discuss meaning, please Achilles -- you know what happens when
we do that!   I want to use these dictionaries in order to check that the
books are correct.

A: Well, at least we are agreed that dictionaries are a good idea.

(they round a corner)

T: Achilles, what is that?!

A: Why, a dictionary, Mr. T.

T: But it is in the library!   I thought when we defined dictionaries we
agreed it was "not a goal" to register dictionaries in the library!

A: But surely that doesn't stop me putting one in the library?

T: Irony heaped on Irony!  The Library is for books.  That you should abuse
it so!  A dictionary is not a book.  It is a metabook.

A: What? Of course it is  book!

T:  You said that you wanted it have the form of a book so we make them out
of paper -- but that doesn't mean the intent was to put it in the library!

A: But this is my section of the library -- it is the section on Library
Architecture and I need a dictionary to define the terms used in that field.

T: But you know that people can loose things in a library, and libraries can
burn down ... there are so many reasons that dictionaries should NOT be in
the in the library, Achilles!

A: Look at this way, Mr. Tortoise: when I am doing research in the library,
need to be able to look up words, and so I need a dictionary in the library.

T: You have some woolly notion of finding out what books mean, Achilles, but
we haven't agreed about that. The meaning of the semantics of "meaning" are
not a consensus in current linguistic epistemorthosemantisophologic theory.

A: I don't need to go into that, but I need a place for dictionaries.

T: Oh, we have all been discussing where dictionaries should go.  We have
of ideas: We have plans for a new vault building down the road much more
secure than this library.  We have that white tower on the hill we could
use too.

..Besides, in practice, most of us keep a pocket
dictionary for each language we use in our briefcases. It isn't as though we
need so many dictionaries. Frankly, dictionaries have such different
requirements to books I am shocked to see this dictionary in your section of
the library!  If you don't take it out out, I will bite your heel.

A: But I thought when we designed the library it was so that any sort of
book could go in it. That is why we called it the Global Eternal Bibliotech,
after all: it is Good for Every Book.  I should be able to keep this
dictionary in it simply because it is a book.

T: But Achilles, for the last time, a dictionary is NOT  A  BOOK!


With apologies & thanks to Douglas Hofstadter (sp?) for taking us through
fun (and inevitability) of self-referential systems.

Tim Berners-Lee

Received on Sunday, 21 May 2000 08:52:18 UTC