Goodbye Encyclopaedia Britannica
Last week Encyclopaedia Britannica announced it would cease publishing encyclopedias. Clearly, Encyclopaedia Britannica has fallen victim to Wikipedia, Google and the Internet in general. Encyclopaedia Britannica had published it’s volumes of knowledge for over 250 years and a change in its business strategy was long overdue. I remember as a child my family’s first set of encyclopedias. Those came from a company called World Book. I loved those volumes and would sit for hours reading them. I didn’t need an assignment or homework, I would scan every page. I believe I read most of those twenty plus volumes and every annual update. However, today we have faster access to much more information and while some of the postings may have errors, more often than not they are accurate and useful. But more importantly, it is regularly updated.
IP Communications allows for the information to be dynamic and developed by more than one source or opinion. Encyclopaedia Britannica followed a tried and true model of using an expert to develop an entry but that ignored the greater diversity of thought that might exist on a given subject. I was also reminded that on Wikipedia, in addition to multiple sources, there could also be a list of related materials with all of it timely. Furthermore, the increased accessibility permits more people to read and gain from the postings. Everyone with access to the Internet has more than a set of encyclopedias and ultimately the opportunity to have an even broader knowledge of the world in which we live.
There is something nostalgic about seeing reference books on shelves and, perhaps, I will even collect a set of encyclopedias as antiques. They do look better on the shelf than a tablet.