Public-sourced photos? Cum off it

Incidentally, the name of my local Jamaican takeaway is…

This is a post of two parts, and, like some kind of popular Swedish novel, it won’t make much sense until they collide.

Firstly, have you noticed that Collins has made it free to search its online dictionary? Brilliant news. So, if, like me, you have a mind to, you can now compare word definitions from Oxford and Collins side by side. Perfect. Collins definitely has the edge in terms of nice, clean, ad-free design, as well as some lovely features such as usage graphs.

Anyway, I was raving about this yesterday, when someone pointed out a potential flaw on the Collins site. In an unbelievably trusting move, they’ve linked it up to Flickr. Yes, that’s right. Whatever word you search for, on the results page you’ll also get public-sourced images tagged with that word. WHAT?

As I’m incredibly mature and above such things, I immediately tried “breast”. Wow, boobies! Next, with chickens clearly in mind, I tried “cock”. Obviously. Try it, go on – down on the right-hand side of the results page. It shows just two images from a pool of photos with the relevant tags, so I don’t promise you rudeness every time. But there’s a strong chance of it.

Okay, enough of the Vangers. Over to the second part: the goth girl (she’s not really a goth, but bear with me).

Also yesterday, I had a read of Claire Maxwell’s blog, specifically her post on Sophie Dahl’s book. She’s very good, is Claire, by the way, and what I’m about to say is in no way a criticism – have a read for yourself, and then marvel that she writes like that at the tender age of just 18.

Anyway, Claire had written in her blog post: “It’s a cookery book-come-autobiography.” And this should be cum, rather than come.

cum: preposition used between two nouns to designate an object of a combined nature

Now I thought to drop her a quick message (and in fact I did, and she replied that she’d had a feeling it should be cum but couldn’t bring herself to write it – “my grandad reads it!”). But before I wrote the message, I got to thinking: if she doesn’t believe me, where should she look it up? I don’t want to incite a young lady to type cum into Google, for goodness’ sake.

And so, the Vangers and the goth girl collide. Of course, the new Collins page was the perfect place. I could send a link to the definition, thus sidestepping any potential need for Googling. But I can confirm that those of clean mind and only reasonable levels of curiosity should not scroll down.

On the bright side, I have learnt about some delightful features you can give characters on Second Life (and, luckily for everyone else, that photo is no longer being displayed).

Call it a hunch, but I don’t think this particular feature is a keeper. The overall service, however, gets a big thumbs up from me.

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