Basing this design on an open model of interpretation exploits contemporary linguistic theory and extensive evidence that language is a 'bottom-up' phenomena, i..e meaning emerges in language through many people using and converging on a meaning, not top down. Innovations in language come from immature users, marginal participants, and external languages, not from expert language users. Meaning emerges through many people having similar interpretations. The thesis of the project/public experiment is to demonstrate this bottom-up characteristic decisively. That is, this database can show that many lay attempts at interpretation provide robust meaning--that lay intelligence matters--rather than the singular expert interpretations.

There is a wealth of scholarly and informal evidence to show that the very capacity to learn language comes through communicative attempts--as has been structured in the OOZ project--not in reading a dictionary, not in learning top-down from an expert. The capacity to understand and use language is a function of a network of meaning, that can not be controlled (nor translated) by as single agent. While many people understand this, the OOZ database will be the first experiment to exploit online connective resources (i.e. lots of people) to demonstrate this. Needless to say, demonstrating this effectively, makes a claim about the importance of preserving and enabling open interpretation in other contexts, i.e. national security, politics, environmental data collection and the expanding realm of citizen science.


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