Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rue Britannica

After 244 years, the 32 volume Encyclopedia Britannica is ending - at least, in print form.

Content is now shifting to the online environment. Not everyone can afford 32 volumes ($1490 per set) of hardbacks!

"I understand that for some the end of the Britannica print set may be perceived as an unwelcomed goodbye to a dear, reliable, and trustworthy friend that brought them the joy of discovery in the quest for knowledge." Jorge Cauz, the president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, said.

"In fact, today our digital database is much larger than what we can fit in the print set. And it is up to date because we can revise it within minutes anytime we need to, and we do it many times each day."

"In spite of our long history with print, I would like to point out that no single medium, neither books nor bits, is at the core of our mission," he wrote.

"That mission is to be a reliable, up-to-date, and scholarly source of knowledge and learning for the general public, and I believe that 200 years from now, this mission will continue to be vital and relevant and that the people of the future who are committed to it will use the best available technology to fulfil it."

It is indicative of the times we live in that such a revered volume has shifted its focus to keep up with fast technological changes and demand for instant accessibility to information. The modern generation has no time to open a book and search for required information, it poses a question and expects an answer.

I'm a little saddened, but understand the need for Britannica to keep current and the need for information accessibility.

I can still look up Britannica Online for information, and find myself happily digressing into tangential topics.

So, for Britannica, it is not the end, merely the beginning of a new and exciting future. One that will become an even larger repository of information than the print version.