The Worldwide Lexicon
Linking dictionaries and semantic networks throughout the internet





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Thank you for visiting our website. As of July 1st, most of the protocol specs are now available online. Watch for more updates in late July.

Welcome to the Worldwide Lexicon (WWL) home page. The worldwide lexicon project is an open source initiative to create a multilingual dictionary service for the Internet, and to create a simple, standardized protocol for talking to dictionary, encyclopedia and translation servers throughout the web. (see the Worldwide Lexicon Protocol).

The worldwide lexicon project consists of two components. The first component is a simple protocol for discovering and talking to dictionary servers throughout the web. Think of this as GNUtella for dictionaries. This is based on the SOAP interface, and will allow developers to embed dictionary, encyclopedia and machine translation functionality in many different types of programs and web services.

The second component is an experiment in distributed computing, similar to the SETI@Home project. While SETI@Home taps the idle CPUs of millions of personal computers, the worldwide lexicon enlists the help of internet users who are logged in, but not busy. Think of this as distributed human computation.

To participate, volunteers will download a presence awareness program. When the user is online, but apparently not busy, he or she will occasionally be prompted to provide definitions or translations to participating WWL servers. Even if only a small percentage of Internet users participate in this project, the system will be able to capture millions of new definitions per month.

Watch this space for updates as we expand the site, or subscribe to our email newsletter.

-Brian McConnell (

Recently Added Pages & Further Reading

Also check out Bioastronomy 2002 - Algorithmic Communication With ETI. I am presenting this paper at the upcoming NASA/Fulbright Bioastronomy 2002 conference in Australia. In addition to working on WWL, I am also a part-time SETI researcher. I am especially interested in techniques that can be used to compose messages that can be deciphered by someone who has no prior knowledge about the contents of the message.

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