News item: Jorge Cauz , President, Encyclopaedia Britannica: we will no longer print the 32-volume encyclopedia…
And Farhad Manjoo leads the charge on why this is a good thing: Expensive, Useless, Exploitative: Why we should celebrate the end of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s print edition. “Good riddance,” Mr. Manjoo says. Here is part of what he wrote:
Most importantly, learning to navigate Google and Wikipedia prepares you for the real world, while learning to use Britannica teaches you nothing beyond whatever subject you’re investigating at the moment.
Don’t buy what Britannica’s selling. Its reliance on expert authority may yield mostly accurate information, but it teaches kids to believe everything they read. If you pay for this service, you’re building a cocoon of truth around students who’ll one day enter a world where everyone claims to be an expert—and where a lot of those people are lying. If you want to learn to suss out the liars, there’s no better training than Wikipedia.
So, I told my wife that Farhad Manjoo wrote that this was a good thing (I frequently quote Farhad Manjoo to my wife, and to my audiences), and she quickly stated the reason in a three word phrase that captured the problem. She said, “I assume it’s because he said that, with the printed version, ‘learning is static.’” Well said!
Yes, the world has changed.
I still own my very old (1950s edition) of the World Book Encyclopedia. I remember the salesman (my mother let me sit in), and he showed us how it was almost indestructible. I wrote many a “report’ for school from that encyclopedia.
But I haven’t looked inside a physical encyclopedia for years. Years! But, I read Wikipedia constantly. And there may be some entries that are not quite what I need. But, the consensus is growing that in most instances, Wikipedia is as reliable as any other source. Kind of the constantly, practically instantaneous, self-correcting crowd effect.
But, more importantly, I don’t have to pay $1400.00, walk across to book shelves, and find and open a volume, and find the entry. Now, with a tap of my finger, I go from the book I am reading on my Kindle App, to Safari, then I read what I need, and then I go right back to my book in the Kindle App. It takes seconds. It is right there. And, it makes learning as ongoing, fast, and convenient as I could have ever imagined. It is wonderful.
So, if you are sad about this development, I understand. I’m a little sad too. But, it’s a done deal. It’s over. Time to adjust, and even embrace, this new world. What else is there to do?