Johnson’s Dictionary: DMacDonald

There are two central objects in my photo, a mug filled with coffee and a computer with an image on the screen.  The first, in the foreground, is the mug.  Our class has been set up as a digital coffee house and I felt that bringing coffee into the photo would help continue that theme.  The coffee mug is also often present during homework and I thought it would be interesting to put something slightly meta into the photo.  I also included the mug because many critical discussions are held around cups of coffee and it is easy to tell Johnson was keenly aware that critical discussions would be held about his work.  To account for the inevitable critical discussion, Johnson spends most of the Preface putting good ideas and thoughts out for discussion while also trying to insulate himself from the criticism that would arise.

The image in the background of the photo is a laptop with Johnson’s Dictionary pulled up on the screen from an online database.  The page being displayed is a portrait of Johnson and the title page of the work.  I used the background to connect to a quote of Johnson’s that I really enjoyed, “I shall not think my employment useless or ignoble, if by my assistance foreign nations and distant ages gain access to the propagators of knowledge, and understand the teachers of truth.”  Johnson’s work was extremely important, but I like the quote because it displays a selflessness that the creators of the non-profit database companies must also share.  One of these companies, Openlibrary.org, is the database that stored most of the works we accessed in this class (including Johnson’s dictionary shown in the photo.)  I thought it was interesting that Johnson’s attitude has carried forward and is the reason students in a different nation, and of a different age, can read his work for themselves.

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