Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quick reference

I just learned about a nifty new reference resource from Michael Heath, in a comment at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. It's a Firefox add-on that allows you to hover over or highlight a piece of text in your browser and instantly get a pop-up description from Here's what it looks like:

I showed this to a couple of coworkers and they were suitably impressed, although we couldn't help musing over our declining patience in the internet age. It's true - even though I can look up almost anything by opening a new browser tab and running a Google search, I'm excited to find something that will save me all that time (!) by letting me pop up a cursory definition in the same window. On the other hand, how often did I run to the dictionary or the encyclopedia, back in the good ol' days, when I came across something unfamiliar? Quite often - but not as often as I run those Google searches that usually land on Wikipedia or some dictionary site. And now, when I encounter an unfamiliar word or person, I can get a quick definition even faster than before, which means I'll probably go the effort of doing it more often. So, yeah, it panders to a certain laziness, but if I'm addressing my ignorance more frequently than before, isn't that a great thing?

1 comment:

Cranberry Necklace said...

I installed it immediately and have used it a dozen times this week. It's very handy and informative.