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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 3, 2010 at 11:51 AM

D8: Wordnik demos digital dictionary 3.0

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. — Erin McKean’s company doesn’t have the market cap of most companies at the All Things Digital conference, but she may have the most endearing story.

McKean was inspired by a story in the Wall Street Journal — the conference hosts — to become a dictionary editor, or lexicographer, when she was 8 years old. She grew up to become the editor of American dictionaries for Oxford University Press.

Now she’s running a Burlingame, Calif.-based startup called Wordnik, which offers a digital dictionary platform that publishers and device companies can embed into their products. It’s based on collection of 10 billion words the company’s assembled and enhanced with explanatory definitions that can be used with e-books, for instance, to provide a richer definition of words.

“Publishers give us text, and we enhance it by giving them everything we know,” she said.

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