Mar 14, 2012 at 10:46 am #1287115
Technology marches on… and the old makes way for the new. That is the expected. Still, it's sad to read that after 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica will cease printing in book form.
Curious, how many of you own a set of encyclopedias? I have a 1997 set of the Encyclopedia Americana.Mar 14, 2012 at 10:55 am #1853656
Thanks for posting this. I have a set from 1975 that was handed down.Mar 14, 2012 at 10:57 am #1853658
When I was 8 I asked for a set of encyclopedias for Christmas. My parents were thrilled!
Indeed, sad to hear production is ceasing.Mar 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm #1853716
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"Curious, how many of you own a set of encyclopedias? I have a 1997 set of the Encyclopedia Americana."
I think my dad still has the set he bought for us when I was a kid. Over 20 years ago I bought a used set of Britannica's "Great Books of the Western World" which has been my main reading library ever since.Mar 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm #1853724
What's this encyclopedia of which you speak?Mar 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm #1853800
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
My parents bought us a set when we were kids. It greatly motivated me to learn English.Mar 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm #1853812
@sparky52804Locale: Eastern Iowa
Doug, It's Wikipedia only on paper.Mar 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm #1853820
@jonorsaraLocale: SE Missouri and NW Arkansas
My family had a set of the World Book Encyclopedias from 1978 or 1979. We got the year book for quite a few years after that. I used them all the time, mostly just for fun. And occasionally for important things, such as finding out if my full house beat my sister's flush.Mar 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm #1853825
…Mar 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm #1853850
"What's this encyclopedia of which you speak?"
Ah, the irony.Mar 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm #1853992
@paulmagsLocale: People's Republic of Boulder
We had a set of the Britannica growing up.
Gorgeous books with that wonderful goldleaf-like trim and the deep brown covers.
I remember spending many hours just opening up the Britannica at random and reading articles.
I'd read about the part of Italy where the family came from.
Delve into the places where my grandfathers fought in WW2.
Read more about Mars and Jupiter and what other wonders might be out there in the galaxy.
The Britannica was not a small investment for my parents. The money spent meant many hours of getting up at 5am to punch a clock. Saturdays spent working overtime. Working the night shift and weekends as a nurse's aide so at least one parent would be home at all times.
Think it was their way to encourage my brothers and I to learn about a world different from what they knew.
They wanted something different for us. A chance at college, a 'professional job' and something that did not involve making a living that left the body injured, aching and having the 'wear and tear' catch up after many years.
Thinking about it now, my parents must have had a lot of hopes and dreams for us wrapped in that purchase of a set of books so many years ago.
The Britannica in print form may be old and antiquated in today's world.
But I can't see any future child that life may bring having the same sense of nostalgia about a laptop and Wikipedia entries accessed.Mar 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm #1854042
Very well said, Paul.Mar 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm #1854044
Technology advances, but can 1's and 0's really replace printed text? We lose the tactile connection to printed word. The look and smell of the paper evaporates. The information seems disposable when in fact the newest and most cutting edge technology owes its existence to the most archaic devices.
This is the very reason that I cannot use a digital organizer, such as my iPhone, as an organizer. I need to write, with pencil and paper, my daily and weekly tasks.
That is probably why I am in part drawn to UL backpacking.Mar 15, 2012 at 10:05 am #1854205
@socal-nomadLocale: North San Diego county
It all staring like Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 next Firemen will be burning your books and people will become books in a secret place. Governments will feed us only written media they see fit for our minds. ROFLOL
TerryMar 15, 2012 at 11:17 am #1854244
i had a set of world book encyclopedias when i was young … i read it religiously …
encyclopedias have gone the way of the dodo for good reason … the use of crowdsourcing is a much more effective (and accurate) way of publishing general basic information over the internet … also there is the fact that wiki is FREE, more widely available, and more easily researchable is of great benefit to mankind IMO … all you need is some smartphone or terminal in some village in gods know where, and you can have the same information as someone in a first world city … i strongly believe that such "cheapening" of knowledge is partly responsible for the distribution of IT and other service jobs to developing countries … the use of internet tools is definitely playing a huge part in the social revolutions we have been seeing the last few years
i cant say i miss the tactile feel of an encyclopedias, i couldnt easily carry them on the go, they were a biatch to read in the coffee shop, i had to lug around several just to cover a wide variety of topics, i couldnt reference them fast enough to win heated senseless arguments with other people (unlike BPL arguments … lol) …
also there was no hyperlinking …. do not underestimate the differences in the way a conventional person goes through and encyclopedia and how a "modern" person uses hyperlinks … one tends to force you to read in a linear fashion, the other provides distributed reading on a wider knowledge base over the same time …. google and other internet companies understand this very well and make billions off it
in short … we should be celebrating that the encyclopedia is dead … as it has been replaced with something better, more relevant, and much more widely available … the commoditization of knowledge from "elitist" books to the "plebeian" internet can only benefit the common person (not elite BPLers of course =P)Mar 15, 2012 at 11:36 am #1854256
My view… the internet is certainly more easily accessible. While I and others lament the passing of encyclopedias in book form — that in itself is not a critical loss — simply because the information is still around — just in different formats. I am sure there were plenty of "old farts" lamenting the transitioning of scrolls into books. We got over that. And we will get over this as well.
Having said the above, I am not at all convinced that crowdsourcing is more accurate. It can be more timely than most articles published in book or even magazine form. But I think there is tremendous value in articles that are well written / edited / cross checked by scholars who are respected in their fields — such as the Britannica. Obviously, the same scholars can simply continue issuing authoritative articles on the web, but we all know there is A LOT OF NOISE in the world wide web (nature of the beast) — and most people never go much beyond the first page of their google results… and many won't go to fee-based internet sources when they are convinced that "free is good enough".Mar 15, 2012 at 11:39 am #1854260Mar 15, 2012 at 11:53 am #1854267
i wont say that its the most accurate thing in the world … but its no worse the the encyclopedia …
for specific and specialized information, peer edited articles have the advantage, but encyclopedias are much more generalized … for example you wouldnt learn climbing skills (if you were sane) off either a general encyclopedia or wikipedia …
people vote with their feet, and its clear which way they voted as well … professionals are doing the same IMO, while they still pay for specialized knowledge, its going away from books and migrating online
as to scholars, while they can be often correct on specific subjects, remember that the general consensus among them a century ago was that africa and souther america could never have been part of the same continent, or that certain races were less intelligent than others, etc …
Sometimes the stupid-sounding ideas turn out to be the ones that take off. Almost five years ago, a free online encyclopaedia known as Wikipedia was launched. To those familiar with the peer-review process, the premise behind the new publication seemed crazy: any user, regardless of expertise, can edit the entries. It sounded like a method for creating garbled and inaccurate articles, and many critics said so.
Fast-forward to 2005, and some of that criticism is looking misplaced. Wikipedia is now a huge reference source, with something approaching a million articles in the English version alone. It's true that many of its entries are confusing and badly structured; some of them are badly wrong, and sometimes the errors are deliberate. After the discovery of an outrageously false description of John Seigenthaler, a former editor of The Tennessean newspaper, Wikipedia's publishers introduced registration in an attempt to discourage (though it cannot prevent) "impulsive vandalism".
But as an investigation on page 900 of this issue shows, the accuracy of science in Wikipedia is surprisingly good: the number of errors in a typical Wikipedia science article is not substantially more than in Encyclopaedia Britannica, often considered the gold-standard entry-level reference work. That crazy idea is starting to look anything but stupid.Mar 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm #1854283
@paulmagsLocale: People's Republic of Boulder
I have no misconceptions on how much easier it is to Google information than to look through a table of contents.
I fully appreciate the overall usefulness and even accepts its superiority in terms of finding info. Hell, I love it. I often read books with my i-Pad open just so I can look up things for more background info. Cool. (When I am not reading an e-book).
However, the point of my little essay was that the EB (and similar) stirs up feelings of nostalgia, symbolism, etc. that FOR ME an i-Pad with Wikiepedia will not capture.
Call me a pragmatic romantic.
I will gladly use the modern tools, but part of me will miss certain items from the past because of what they are (and more accurately) what they represented in my life.Mar 16, 2012 at 7:35 am #1854651
@asciibaronLocale: Mid Atlantic
growing up, i knew i was poor, we had the World Book encyclopedia series. my kids have the internet and a Cliff Clavin of a dad.Mar 17, 2012 at 8:26 am #1855154
@socal-nomadLocale: North San Diego county
The only thing I have a problem with wikipedia is history is rewritten to suit the difrent writers political or personal beliefs and sometime you don't get the actual facts. Encyclopedia Britannic have paid unbiased fact checkers to make sure the fact are exactly what happened.
Plus it kinda of hard to read Laptop or tablet computer on the toilet.
TerryMar 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm #1855308
you read an encyclopedia on the toilet? … im seriously impressed ;)Mar 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm #1855313
Yep. Many of the short-to-medium length articles are perfect for reading on the throne. Flipping the pages and reading whatever appears, it's amazing how much one can learn while sitting unhurried… I agree with Terry that it just ain't the same with a tablet and wifi…Mar 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm #1855314
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Maybe Eric prefers to practice his high-angle rock moves.
–B.G.–Mar 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm #1855320
i play civ on my iphone … sometimes toilet breaks can take a very long time …
i hope people wash their encyclopedias frequently ;)
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