Is the Encyclopedia Dead?

This is a discussion on Is the Encyclopedia Dead? within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Remember those nice, 24-volume sets that cost $1200+? They're pretty much dead, aren't they? I don't think I've looked in ...

  1. #1
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    Is the Encyclopedia Dead?

    Remember those nice, 24-volume sets that cost $1200+? They're
    pretty much dead, aren't they? I don't think I've looked in a
    real Encyclopedia since I got my first computer (which came with
    Encarta '97).

    Who buys these expensive sets anymore? Britannica still sells
    them (the 2003 set goes for $1395), but I can't imaginine there's
    a huge market for them. The internet, CD-ROM, they've pretty
    much killed the traditional encyclopedia.

    I kind of miss the feel of the old encyclopedias. There were times I
    would just flip through the pages looking at pictures and reading
    random articles; I would find interesting topics completely by
    accident. This doesn't really happen with Google or CD-ROM 'pedias.
    Those really depend on the user knowing exactly what it is they're
    looking for.

    Then again, I like the multimedia aspects of Encarta. I like the little
    video and sound clips. I remember the first time I saw Encarta,
    it was amazing. I remember watching a clip of whales, and another
    of cheetahs at my friend's house. Plus, they made homework
    about a billion times easier...

    I don't know; I'm just rememberin' things...

    How long do you think it'll be until regular books (novels, textbooks)
    are all written and published electronically? I don't know if I like
    the idea of that.
    Staying away from General.

  2. #2
    Xei
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    Well I'm sure, that for your sake, someone will put a "Find Random Information" function at Dictionary.com or something.

    As for 24 set of books, I can't wait to see those go out of the window. I don't read any book that isn't computer related, so I don't really mind paper being used for better things.
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  3. #3
    Pursuing knowledge confuted's Avatar
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    I don't read any book that isn't computer related

    That's really quite a shame...there are some good books that aren't related to programming, which can't be found online.
    Away.

  4. #4
    The Pantless Man CheesyMoo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Xei
    I don't really mind paper being used for better things.
    Like, wiping?
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  5. #5
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    Smile

    You can just go to your local library and enjoy those paper encyclopedias!!!
    Mr. C: Author and Instructor

  6. #6
    Lead Moderator kermi3's Avatar
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    When I'm doing research on something the encyclopedia is my prefered place to start. Even though it can't be sited in more scholarly works it is reliable and you know it is right. The internet is great to research from sometimes, but you have to know the place you're starting at is reliable. Therefore i prefere to start with a book and then use the internet...I generally return to books, once again they are more reliable plus they are usually written by professionals while internet can be writen by joe shmoe - so books are easier to read.

    (I won't even mention that I hate reading from a computer screen; I don't learn as much.
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    Thumbs up


    ...I generally return to books, once again they are more reliable plus they are usually written by professionals while internet can be writen by joe shmoe - so books are easier to read
    You make a good point here- you have to watch the validity of some of posts on Internet about certain topics.
    Mr. C: Author and Instructor

  8. #8
    Registered User GoodStuff's Avatar
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    Hey you make encyclopediae sound infallible.

    Keep in mind that the quality of information is very dependant on the source, and while websites may be written by "any joe smoe" they are usually written by someone interested in the subject- ie. One who takes pains to have the correct information. The more passionate someone is about their site, the better the quality of information. Else, why make a site?

    Many encyclopediae are known to have contained grave errors since they are but a compilation of short articles. The persons compiling that information have no passion for that specific subject - Usually they have a passion for compiling encyclopediae.

    As for paper vs computer - All over scientists are frantically trying to develop an electronic paper. Either a re-printable paper that can be sent through a printer many times or a paper-like display device. Most of the efforts were quite successful. The main thing now is to refine the techniques. Soon we will have the best of both words - The mass storage and sheer data-manipulating capabilities of a computer combined with an easthetically pleasing and ergonomic paper-like display.

    Paper is almost dead, but long shall live the book.

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  9. #9
    The Pantless Man CheesyMoo's Avatar
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    I guess most encyclopedias are rather acurate but, history books, those are a real problem.

    At leas in the US there is a great biased for history books towards itself. I've been told that most of the information is either false or tainted, but I don't know if that was false either. So it's rather confusing.

    I prefer reading things in books but computers have some benefits for reading, I can look up definitions really quick or an acronym. I think it's easier to focus with a book and you can lie in bed and stuff whilst reading it.
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  10. #10
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    Originally posted by CheesyMoo
    I guess most encyclopedias are rather acurate but, history books, those are a real problem.

    At leas in the US there is a great biased for history books towards itself. I've been told that most of the information is either false or tainted, but I don't know if that was false either. So it's rather confusing.
    I wouldn't say exactly that, though it may depend on your specific textbook. You're right that the history books have an West-centric worldview and that the United States is generally put in a positive light, but the facts are not outright lies. A decent high school American history textbook will not only cover what went right but also what went wrong: It's not like textbook writers can hide the facts that slavery was legal in many states until the mid nineteenth century and that racial inequality continued (actually continues still) until very recently. Yes, much relevant history is cast aside in favor of the traditional themes of American history, but most modern textbooks have made an effort to cover those as well.

    Going back to the Western focus of history courses in the United States, it's completely necessary to cover Western history in depth because the United States is a Western nation. Many of the ideas and customs in our country today originate in Europe and in Western civilization. Of course it's always nice to cover the histories of China, India, and so on, but it's even more important not to be ignorant of the culture all around you.

  11. #11
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    If u like encyclopedias and GNU you'll love www.wikipedia.org
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  12. #12
    Registered User zahid's Avatar
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    Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh

    Recently we got our national Encyclopedia, this is the first and only one . It's called Banglapedia. Lucky to have my set from the first print after six months of order.
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  13. #13
    Registered User Scourfish's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Xei
    Well I'm sure, that for your sake, someone will put a "Find Random Information" function at Dictionary.com or something.

    As for 24 set of books, I can't wait to see those go out of the window. I don't read any book that isn't computer related, so I don't really mind paper being used for better things.
    Then good luck in college; many of my professors do not allow anything but books as cites to a paper.
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  14. #14
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    As for the 24 volume sets going for $1000+, I think those are more geared towards libraries and buildings of the like... I personally don't know anyone that owns (or can afford) the paper version.

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