Encyclopedia Britannica in the age of Wikipedia | Dan Gillmor
It’s the end of an era. What Gutenberg brought us was good for 500 years, it was amazing, it had changed the world so profoundly as only fire did before. Now a new change has happened, a new reality has kicked in and books are no more – at least no more in the form of dead trees.
Interestingly enough Wikipedia is a huge success, but is now going through pain of it’s own. Wikipedia editors are dwindling and the ones that remain are too old-school to be able to bring up new generation. A lot of Wikipedia sections are getting stale – it’s not unusual for me to read Wikipedia articles where years like 2008 and 2010 are being spoken about in future tense. The speed of change is accelerating. It’s not just Microsoft being disposed by Google and now Google by Facebook, but Wikipedia being disposed for services that give more of instant gratification to the masses. It will be interesting to await the answer from Wikipedia’s masterminds like Jimmy Wales. It would be funny to see Larry Page and Jimmy Wales sitting down together and discussing plans how to make their old toys shiny again.
Bonus future-history question: Will the phrase “Tim Berners-Lee” ever be used as a name of the event as in “There were books, but then Tim Berners-Lee happened and books went extinct”?
The end of Britannica printing its encyclopedia is really just a footnote in the great story of online access to knowledge My childhood was richer because we had an encyclopedia at home. It wasn’t the ultra-expensive Encyclopedia Britannica, but rather the thinner, more modestly priced World Book.
- Wikipedia Didn’t Kill Britannica. Windows Did (wired.com)
- The End of a 244-Year Era As Encyclopedia Britannica Goes Out of Print! (geardiary.com)