Google’s think tank Jigsaw and The Washington Post launch Sideways Dictionary

Date
15 March 2017

Google’s technology incubator Jigsaw and The Washington Post has officially launched the Sideways Dictionary, an online glossary for technology terms that uses relatable analogies instead of descriptions.

The launch was announced by Yasmin Green, director of research and development at Jigsaw, as part of her keynote speech at South by Southwest festival in Texas. The initiative is explained via an animation written and directed by Google Creative Lab, and animated by NoMint, which divulges the project’s motivations and how to use it.

Sideways Dictionary hopes to demystify tech jargon for non-tech-savvy people, by translating common terms, for example ‘encryption’, into real-life examples, such as “it’s like sending a sealed letter instead of a postcard”. The platform is crowd-sourced, inviting users to submit their own analogies to the dictionary and vote for their favourite descriptions.

The tool has already been embedded on The Washington Post’s website (see how the term “hacking” is defined) to show how it could be used editorially, and there is Chrome extension already available that finds terms to explain within the page you’re reading.

Jigsaw is part of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and develops technology to “tackle geopolitical problems”.

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Google Creative Lab and NoMint: Sideways Dictionary animation

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Google Creative Lab and NoMint: Sideways Dictionary animation

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Google Creative Lab and NoMint: Sideways Dictionary animation

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Google Creative Lab and NoMint: Sideways Dictionary animation

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Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, now overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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