Leo

I stumbled across this Swisscom poster showcasing Leo’s mobile app to sell a smart phone:

leo on swisscom poster

I started using Leo’s English – German dictionary regularly long time ago – in the late 90s. I think it must have been about 1997 or 1998 at my first full-time job after uni. The vocabulary wasn’t as extensive as it is today. And at the time many people questioned and challenged its reputation as a reference. But, working in an IT company, we had unlimited access to the Internet. And Leo’s website was accessible from every workplace, whereas hard copy dictionaries were few and bulky.

I remember lively discussions with a secondary school teacher for German and English. Her main point was that there was too little information on usage and folks studying English as a second language would be confused and misled by the simple list views. I felt that this also applied to most hard copy dictionaries. Regarding usage I – in turn- recommended Oxford’s monolingual Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.

From early on, Leo offered access to a forum where dictionary users could ask questions, make suggestions, improve dictionary entries, clarify usage, etc. And they added links to other language resources. Which indirectly helped me to find a job during the dotcom downturn.

Well, here I am walking to the office in Züri on a fine, sunny morning… just 13 years later… and Leo is helping to sell smartphones:

leo

Related links:
Leo’s history
Online version of Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary

Technology Leapfrogs

I like this quote from Hacktivate:

We need to stop underestimating people. Don’t expect Africans to be content with boring old SMS and voice for long. Smartphones, droids and even iphones are much higher up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs than we realize, especially if nobody around owns a computers, your schools suck, and the government controls the radio and newspaper. Africans have leapfrogged over landlines. They are now leaping over laptops.

(Desperate housewives, lonely on their isolated farms, also surprised the world by being the early adopters of the strange world of cranks and dials and operators that made up the original telephones of the 19th century)

@bikobiko posted a series of cell phone photos used by Community Health Workers in Malawi. One guy paid 8 bags of rice.