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Town Hall is always looking for ways to make our programs even more accessible—from livestreaming sold-out programs, to making our talks freely available through our media library and podcasts. With our new Digital Stage page on our website, it’s easier than ever to take Town Hall with you wherever you go! On this page, you’ll find our In the Moment podcast, access audio and video of past events, see upcoming livestreams, and find our latest initiative: articles and interviews with upcoming speakers.
We distill our lengthy conversations with speakers down to just a few choice minutes, and that means some fun exchanges don’t make the final cut. Just for you, our Members, here are some behind-the-scenes extras from the clipping room floor, material that didn’t make it into the publicly-released version of Jonathan Shipley’s interview with lexicographer Kory Stamper:
JS: What are some interesting things to happen in a dictionary office that most of us know nothing about?
KS: There is no speaking. The work that we do is mentally intense and so it is very, very, very quiet in a dictionary office. We don’t talk to each other about lunch plans or…
Do you like each other?
(Laughs) We do like each other! But it is an office of pretty extreme introverts. We email each other and there’s a company Slack channel and all that, but during the work day the office is almost entirely silent because of the way that work is.
Another thing – most people think that if you work at a dictionary office you know everything. That, in fact, is not the case. We don’t know everything.
If that were the case you’d all be wizards on ‘Jeopardy!’ and win millions of dollars and no longer have to work at a dictionary office.
Lots of times people will ask weird questions about anything. I’ve gotten questions like, ‘What do you look for when purchasing an Alaskan Malmute?’ One of my colleagues got a question, ‘Where can I buy beans?’ People assume we know everything.
Is there a certain person at the office who handles all of these questions?
It’s different for every dictionary company. At Merriam-Webster the way we did it was there were three editors who basically took turns going through all the customer email. They’ll either answer them, forward them on to another editor to answer…
Or send it to all staff to giggle at?
It’s kind of funny because it’s so common now that it’s, ‘Whatever.’
Stay tuned to our Digital Stage for more original content, articles and interviews, and unique previews of the big ideas on their way to Town Hall’s stages!