britannica print edition post-mortem  

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I learned a few days ago that Britannica will discontinue its print edition, so I go back in time to track my path in this world of "infinite and instant knowledge".

I was lucky enough to be born in a home with tons of books and was taught to read long before going to school. I  never got to read them all, there were thousands of titles. By the time I was in primary school, I had more questions than my parents could answer (they tried, but their answers no longer satisfied me). It took me a while to figure out that I could find answers in our numerous dictionaries and encyclopediae (Larousse, Quillet Flammarion and a locally produced "little encyclopedic dictionary").

Honest books make the reader honest, at least to the extent that they lure out his antipathy and hatred, which cunning prudence otherwise knows best to conceal.”

Human, All Too Human, “Assorted Opinions and Maxims,” §145 (excerpt).

Soon enough I wanted more, but my school did not have a library. The local library was small and dark and overseen by a librarian lady with glasses and a "large presence" who wasn't very good with people. She never had any of the books I needed and I had the feeling she was expecting bribes.

When I was about to leave the country I had to learn English. I only studied French, German and a bit of Latin in school; I knew a few English words from movies and the aborted private lessons I once took with various tutors, never more than 3 with each. I thus purchased a membership card for the British Council and studied a few of the courses with audio tapes. I learned to read well but when it came to talking I was much like the “engineer stereotype”: intelligent eyes, no words coming out.

When the time to leave my native country came, I stole two books from them: International Business English and another one on negotiating. I was afraid that I may end up in a situation where I don’t have a good command of the English language, I don’t have a job and library membership would cost more than I could afford.

I then made it to Canada and discovered the amazing library system. I could order books online from any library in the entire city and get a phone call when it was available to pick up at the local library. Books were easy to find and easy to search for and often times I'd be looking for a book on a subject and find a much better one right next to it. I could find simple, easy to read books on virtually any subject, so I became a bookworm, like Sorescu’s Don Juan.

Then, sometime in the 90s, I discovered the Internet. It was small enough that I did not really need a search engine, I could just get by with my Mosaic bookmarks and the ability to search within them. There was so much info available but back then “the web” was only one of the many ways to discover info. I bought “Internet for Dummies”, read it and I instantly became my own best librarian. There wasn’t anything I could not find or download. I remember pirating Microsoft Encarta (and another one, I can’t remember – Grolier or something), installing it and never using it. I simply could find any article I wanted on Altavista ( for security, underground stuff). Or IRC / Usenet for more interactivity.

The English books I had from Romania were now useless to me. I gave the one on negotiating to a friend (or someone stole it from me – can’t remember) and years later, I tried to return the IBE book back to the British Council location I stole it from. That caused hilarity and they didn’t want to take it back. It was a student booklet, a teacher booklet and an audio tape and nobody wanted audio tapes anymore.

Then the web exploded, Altavista could no longer keep up, Google came along, then Wikipedia. Wikipedia was such a game changer that it attracted instant hatred from all the pompous profs and other bastards who would subsist solely on their monopoly on knowledge.

The demise of Britannica’s print edition is only a natural, evolutionary step forward. It is also a reminder that if it’s only snobbism and denial of your use of Wikipedia that prevents you from donating to this project, you will rot in knowledge hell :)

Sources / More info: mash, wiki-r, cn-study,

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Wednesday, March 21, 2012 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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