Thursday, October 8, 2009

199/365 Ye old encyclopedias

Does anyone use a physical, hard-bound encyclopedia anymore?

Sadly, kids under 15 may have never even picked one up.

I used these books for many reports and research papers when I was in school. Though I may not have loved having such a cumbersome bit of homework, I admittedly enjoyed selecting the right book from the set, and thumbing through the thin, glossy, gold-edged pages until I found the entry about my subject.

Sure, they became outdated easily. But how else did you learn what came alphabetically before and after "tornado?" Or "vampire?" Or "Dickens?" It reminds me of an episode of Friends, where Joey is visited by an encyclopedia salesman and chooses to only buy the "V" volume.

The revolution (in my experience) started with Encarta, Microsoft's encyclopedic software that came on CD. As a sign of the times, when I googled Encarta just now, I noticed that even that service will no longer be available after October 31.

Then came Encyclopedia Britannica, which apparently, when you're attempting to look something up, has a really annoying pop-up that reminds you every few seconds that you're not a paying member.

And now we have Wikipedia, the free, open-to-editing-by-anyone, most up-to-date source for all things encyclopedic.

I turn to Wikipedia for many things. But it definitely doesn't have that same weighty enjoyment that comes with looking up an item in a book.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 1250

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