The first mentions of it came (at least my way) via Twitter. Then I saw it on Facebook. Finally, I was able to get to my iPad and see it in electronic-print for real. It’s the end of an era as Encyclopedia Britannica surrenders to the inevitable and gives up the print editions.
Just think about how you found out about this. Chances are it was not this morning when you got your copy of the New York Times (or your morning paper of choice) from the end of your driveway. Chances are it was not even on the late news of choice last night. In fact, it’s very likely you found out about this “stunning” change via the same medium that helped kill the printed volumes.
I truly do have found memories of the encyclopedia (Britannica and World Book). The new volumes coming out of the boxes. The never-ending cross referencing you could from one volume to the next.
There were episodes of TV shows growing up-Happy Days leaps to mind quickly where being a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman played a central role.
And now, all of that content. All of that information is available on line-and I am not even talking about Wikipedia.
Perhaps the first tell-tale that this day would come was when library Sciences moved away from Dewey decimal. I don’t know.
But I do know, there is no way my kids would know how to pull an encyclopedia off the shelf and do some research. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing since I always strived as a student and strive as a parent to understand how to find information-wherever it is and not be slave to a specific method of finding information.
So, I’ll fire up my iPad (I have the 3 on order BTW) and read more about the demise of this piece of Americana via other institutes that have already made the shift-newspapers, magazines and video. And you know what?
Even though I’ll remember the fun of looking through the images of the human body and the solar system in the printed books-the information is not lost-it’s actually more readily available. And that’s a good thing, right?