Wednesday, March 14, 2012

End of print encyclopedia Britannica

When at school I had too many questions to ask and one of my teachers told me to go and find out the answers in the library. First I tried the dictionary, but it gave only the meaning but not the detail. While I was walking around trying to find a book, which would explain the term, our friendly librarian had been observing me walk around aimlessly and came up to me and asked me, what was wrong with me. So I shyly explained to her that I had find some reading material for the list of terms I had. Then she took me to the remote part of the library which had all similar looking well bounded big books. She taught be how to look up the volumes and then find the word I wanted to check on. This was the first introduction to encyclopedia Britannica.

Before this I always thought that the children's encyclopedia was what is called an Encyclopedia. But from this day, whenever I wanted to find out about something new I paid a visit to this remote corner of the library. It was the google or the wikipedia of our childhood days. Today when I read the news item that encyclopedia Britannica will no longer be printed. I got a bit of a shock and started to become all too sympathetic about it.

Then it dawned on me that they are probably making the right decision and embracing realities of the digital age. Probably they should have done a bit earlier than now. Probably before wikipedia and google exploited them with a disruptive technology. But the technology cycles are so fast and specially when it comes to disruptive technologies are so fast that you do not realize until it hits you. Britannica was one of the worst casualties of our times.

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