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After 244 Years, the End For the Dead Tree Encyclopedia Britannica

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the your-encyclopedia-needn't-outweigh-you dept.

Education 373

Rick Zeman writes "According to the New York Times, it's the end of the road for the printed Encyclopedia Brittanica, saying, '...in recent years, print reference books have been almost completely wiped out by the Internet and its vast spread of resources, particularly Wikipedia, which in 11 years has helped replace the authority of experts with the wisdom of the crowds.' The last print edition will be the 32-volume 2010 edition."

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The ultimate hipster edition (5, Insightful)

casings (257363) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346233)

That actually sounds like a really "cool" thing to own.

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (5, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346291)

Just wait until we live in the post energy Mad Max era of lack of knowledge.
Why, if you owned those, you would be... GOD! Or a washed up singer in charge of some sort of barter town.

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346353)

"The Way Things Work" would be a more concise, possibly helpful resource -- albeit I only have an much older edition, which may in fact be more useful as it's mostly related to physical everyday things which could mostly be made using relatively primitive tools.

slashdot setting help needed (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346707)

I can't find the setting to show the thread scores. And YES MUTHAFUCKERS, I've looked everywhere.

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346485)

More useful in the Mad Max era would be Machinery's Handbook (one of the earlier editions without CNC) and maybe a set of Foxfire books.

Those, a slide rule, and a set of log trig tables, and you'd be all set.

It would be more portable too.

--
BMO

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (2)

decsnake (6658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346851)

I have my father's 1938 edition of Machinery's Handbook and the original Foxfire book. If I looked hard I could probably find a slide rule around here somewhere, not that I remember how to use it.

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346301)

Is anyone else just a little bit sad about this news?

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346309)

Do you really want to kill all those trees?

Bad Joke (5, Funny)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346355)

How did the hipster burn his mouth?

He ate pizza before it was cool.

Re:Bad Joke (4, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346749)

How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb.

(waits for you to answer)

No, it's some obscure number you probably haven't heard of yet.

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346463)

They could help but kiss their print edition goodbye with one last snarky remark..."the wisdom of the crowds."

Those asswipes couldn't admit its the effort of volunteers, rather than that of old rich white guys in their ivory towers. (I'm making some assumptions about the people responsible for writing the Encyclopedia Britannica here.)

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346579)

I'm pretty sure you're on the mark with the "old white guys in ivory towers". And I'm quite certain you missed entirely with the "rich". Nobody gets into encyclopedia research for the money.

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (4, Insightful)

Sniper98G (1078397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346575)

$1,400 cool?

http://store.britannica.com/products/ecm001en0 [britannica.com]

This is not the death of the encyclopedia, just the ending of an inefficient costly format. Who goes to their site and ops for the $1,400 print version over the $30 disc version?

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346657)

Hell yes. How else am I supposed to learn about my mandibula?

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (4, Interesting)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346775)

I own one set and it's not nearly as cool as it sounds. Unless I'm doing serious research work on some even/someone (which I haven't done since I enrolled in college), you're not using it. And even those have been replaced by Encarta and things like that.

There are way better mediums than paper and some are actually done by the so called experts. They spelled their own death by not adapting to the times and wanting the times to adapt to them. Now they have an on-line presence and CD/DVD's, but they are years too late.

Re:The ultimate hipster edition (4, Interesting)

tom17 (659054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346935)

My mum used to sell them back in the 90's. I remember that they came out with a CD-ROM version at some point in that timeframe. I do seem to recall though that it was badly implemented, but they were not 'too late'. They just mucked up the implementation.

Gonna be picking up my an old second hand set soon. Not as a serious reference but if there is one thing my mother instilled into me, it was an appreciation of books. A nicely bound set of EB is a nice thing to have on a bookshelf if you have the space. I reckon this set i'll be getitng is just the basic binding though...

What should I do with my print copies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346243)

I feel bad about keeping and wanting to throw out my hard copies.

Yeah... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346249)

...because there's no information from authoritative experts on Wikipedia?

On the other hand, I'd love to own print copy of Britannica. Well, if it were up-to-date and not $1,400.

Ah yeah, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346283)

Yet another modern day entitlement baby who not only wants, but EXPECTS all others to provide and do the work for free.

Re:Yeah... (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346313)

...because there's no information from authoritative experts on Wikipedia?

On the other hand, I'd love to own print copy of Britannica. Well, if it were up-to-date and not $1,400.

A 32 volume printed set and "up to date" are mutually exclusive.

Re:Yeah... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346733)

A simple laser printer can do 40ppm. How many A4 pages in a 32 volume set?

Re:Yeah... (4, Funny)

ToiletBomber (2269914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346765)

OVER 9000!

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346995)

Because, of course, printing is the only part of the publishing process.

Re:Yeah... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346865)

...because there's no information from authoritative experts on Wikipedia?

On the other hand, I'd love to own print copy of Britannica. Well, if it were up-to-date and not $1,400.

A 32 volume printed set and "up to date" are mutually exclusive.

The dead tree version is notorious for out-of-date and inaccurate information. Makes Wikipedia look authoritative.

Losing A Snapshot Of History (5, Insightful)

djnanite (1979686) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346265)

This is quite sad. I obviously prefer my source of knowledge to be up-to-date, and easily accessible, so online encyclopedias make sense. But...I find it quite charming flicking through copies of encyclopedias that are more than 20 years old, seeing a snapshot of our knowledge at the time, and seeing how we've moved on since then. And what library was complete without a complete set of these on their shelves?

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (3, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346289)

...flicking through copies of encyclopedias that are more than 20 years old, seeing a snapshot of our knowledge at the time

This [archive.org] should help your nostalgia in the future.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (0)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346307)

Wikipedia does have history pages, and you can view snapshots. Right now it mostly is used to track edit wars and to watch articles go from nothing to something... but if it persists, it -will- be possible to look back and browse "Wikipedia 2010" in 2060.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346331)

You can get snapshots still- Wikipedia articles have history and it wouldn't take that much effort to go make a bot that ran through a few articles and collected their versions at some time and date. Moreover, Britannica itself while continually updating will also be keeping their old versions (although I don't know if there's going to be any easy access to them). Some other similar projects are still in print, such as the World Book mentioned in the article (although that's really more for a young children). Still, this is the clear end of an era and makes one sad. It also makes me further worried about how much knowledge will get lost if there's some sort of large scale disaster. Paper can survive a lot more infrastructural damage than most forms of electronic storage can.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346333)

It's all a question of how much that nostalgia was worth to you. And apparently, it wasn't worth $1500 a year to many people at all.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346413)

Which begs the question : Why didn't the EB take the lead as the premiere on line reference resource? They had the pole position, they had the background process of collecting and cataloging the information, it would have been trivial to create an on line presence. Yet, they didn't. 244 years of diligence, flushed in a single decade. Wow. I guess it's true - having information isn't good enough, you have to know how to use it as well.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346529)

The "free world" standard for the 19th and 20th centuries, up to the transformation of social philosophy in the '80s, was truth.

The "free world" standard today is verifiability: the more people tell a lie, the more it accepted. Many nations have had this standard in the past, but some countries (notably the UK and the US) have bravely held it back.

Wikipedia's standard is one of verifiability, not truth, so its win over Britannica was inevitable.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (1)

Dr Fro (169927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346681)

Even if they really wanted to, it's not how they were used to making money. I remember getting various "CD" versions of Encarta, Britannica, etc, with computers and I don't recall them taking off either. You'd have thought B&N and Barnes and Noble would have had the pole position w.r.t Amazon, but their business wasn't structured that way - reorganizing everything to change is hard and time-consuming.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (2)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346715)

'begging the question' aside, the reason is pretty straightforward and plagues most all established institutions. An institution knows its place and its place is good given a reality they are used to. Seeing a new paradigm starting to emerge is generally something to be feared and avoid risk of accelerating it. This generally means said institution is outmanuevered by some upstart with nothing to lose while the established organization fights tooth and nail to keep the market they demonstrably know how to dominate.

Occasionally an institution adapts in time, but very very frequently they will refuse to correct course until it is too late.

I'm trying to think of the opposite example, of a company that too aggressively pushed a shift in the state of things that directly obsoleted their advantage in the market without a real threat to answer, but I can't think of one off hand.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (3, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346861)

Pets.com?

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (3, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346431)

You can go download a copy of wikipedia right now. Stick it on a dvd, throw it in some dark corner, and come back in 10 years.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (4, Insightful)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346569)

This is quite sad.

The passing of illuminated scrolls was also quite sad.

I was thinking of buying a copy... (2)

gerf (532474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346667)

I loved having a set as a kid. Not so much to look up information, but to randomly peruse and get a general idea of what is important in the world. Wikipedia has a "random" feature, but I feel more likely to get some Manga cartoon reference than the article on Hadrian's wall. Now that I have kids, I wanted them to enjoy them as well, without burning out their eyes on computer/TV screens any more than they already do.

Then I saw that a new set is something like a thousand dollars, and even 10 year old used sets are quite expensive. Perhaps the printing quality warrants that kind of a price, but I wonder they couldn't have tried to do it cheaper before dropping that part of their business model altogether.

Or, this might sound like blasphemy to Britannica, instead of fighting Wikipedia, they could join them by collaborating on articles and cut down costs that way. Provide some needed quality photography to Wikipedia, and get something in return?

Re:I was thinking of buying a copy... (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346747)

My wife picked up an old World Book for about a buck at a library sale a few months ago. That was a great find for a house with young kids, just to encourage reading. Sure, it's outdated, but 90% of the material doesn't actually change, and there's historical value in the anachronisms. It also looks really nice on a bookshelf.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (1, Interesting)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346849)

Here's a big snag. Wikipedia refuses completely to allow anything that has a second source. You can not make an update if you know the truth and you're an expert in the field, because that's not a second source. Wikipedia doesn't care about getting the truth, they care about keeping their editors happy and chummy with no unruly outsiders in the club. The wisdom of crowds means reject anything that's not conventional wisdom.

So Encyclopedia Britannica is a perfect second source. Without it the wisdom of the crowds is left alone to try and be honest except that crowds don't do that naturally. The whole myth of wisdom of the crowds could fall apart. We NEED an encyclopedia that's run sanely. Wikipedia is nice and all when you want to look up an overview of a subject but it is NOT remotely an authoritative source.

Re:Losing A Snapshot Of History (5, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346975)

Wikipedia doesn't want original research http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:OR [wikipedia.org] and with good reason: the project doesn't want to be in the very difficult position of deciding which experts are actual experts and when experts disagree which one is worth listening to. We're willing to pay the (small) price of having some things need to wait until the experts have put their new research through peer reviewed journals or the like. And that's ok. I'm a math grad student who has done original research. In the process of that I've wrote some Wikipedia articles. At least one of those articles is one where my research improves on known bounds. I haven't added that in because Wikipedia isn't the place for that. When the research gets vetted and published in a peer reviewed journal, I will then go back and add it in.

Citable (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346275)

Wikipedia will actually be a useful reference when I can cite it in a paper without looking entirely foolish.

Re:Citable (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346311)

The same applies to britannica though. If you're at the point where wikipedia isn't a valid reference, then no encyclopedia is really good enough, and if you just have teacher who doesn't get it, well, you have a teacher who doesn't get it. Happens with anything.

Re:Citable (-1, Troll)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346599)

If you're at the point where wikipedia isn't a valid reference, then no encyclopedia is really good enough...

Spoken like a true fast fooder who has never actually read a Britannica article.

Or... "those grapes were sour anyway".

Re:Citable (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346319)

You will never be able to cite Wikipedia in a paper without looking foolish. It really isn't designed for that. You CAN use Wikipedia to get an understanding of a topic, and the references they use are usually pretty good and CAN be used as a cite without looking fooling.

Wikipedia is a great tool, but it will never replace paper encyclopedias, by design. Then again, any paper that only cites encyclopedias (paper or otherwise) isn't a good paper. Even Wikipedia requires multiple sources, as should any good paper, for a balance of perspective and confirmation of key points.

Re:Citable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346349)

But it just did. Replace paper encyclopedias, I mean. That's what this story is about, after all.

Re:Citable (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346401)

You will never be able to cite Wikipedia in a paper without looking foolish.

This is mainly due to the fact that there is no "stable" Wikipedia -- things change so quickly that citing Wikipedia makes it very difficult for anyone to actually look up whatever you were citing. If there were "snapshots" that were widely distributed, say at the end of each year, one could simply cite those snapshots.

Paper encyclopedias are great for citing because they are frozen in time. They also contain errors that are hard to correct, out of date information that is hard to update, and searching them is not nearly as convenient as searching online encyclopedias. Wikipedia will win in the end because it can be updated and corrected so quickly, and because as you yourself noted, the ability to cite encyclopedias is not terribly important.

Re:Citable (2, Interesting)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346557)

>This is mainly due to the fact that there is no "stable" Wikipedia --

This is mainly due to the fact that the vast majority of those in academia (=higher education) consider Wikipedia to be absolutely unreliable. And the foregoing is usually with good reason. Most Wikipedia articles on anything from Mexico to traffic lights, are a sophomoric collection of random facts without any overall coherence or structure-- the latter being the exact thing, that higher knowledge attempts to impart.

Add to that rampant inaccurracies, which are often hidden and hard to root out, and you *might* understand why academics think Wikipedia is low value.

The bottom line is that Wikipedia isn't written by experts, or for the large part by people who have expertise in *any* field, and for topics outside CS and parts of the sciences, it's pretty poor because non-expert "crowds" don't have much judgment. In short-- there's no wisdom in crowds, only amplified ignorance.

Re:Citable (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346695)

The bottom line is that Wikipedia isn't written by experts, or for the large part by people who have expertise in *any* field, and for topics outside CS and parts of the sciences, it's pretty poor because non-expert "crowds" don't have much judgment. In short-- there's no wisdom in crowds, only amplified ignorance.

That's simply not true. Wikipedia's articles on manga and anime characters are second to none.

endurance egghead pukes amplified ignorance (4, Insightful)

epine (68316) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346869)

In short-- there's no wisdom in crowds, only amplified ignorance.

You're the guy who would never have started the project in the first place. The truth about Wikipedia is that the process delivers a quality level that never previously existed. How one assesses its quality really depends on how one approaches it. When you arrive from a blank slate, it's a pretty good first meal. If you're trying to reach escape velocity to intellectual purity and enlightenment, well, endurance athletes classify three quarters of the human diet under poison: sugar, alcohol, cholesterol, additives, and on and on. So true. To an endurance egghead, Wikipedia is outright poison. To a starving African, it's a Swedish buffet.

We're on the familiar terrain here of purity narcissism. Not good enough for my fine brain. Definitely, Wikipedia is not ever going to get there. Out of the 4 million articles, there are maybe 5000 where I'm qualified to heap my scorn. For all the rest, amplified ignorance is vastly superior to no signal at all. In fact, amplified ignorance makes for a pretty good road map for charting the quickest route out of town to the lofty hilltops, if you've got a week to kill. Click. 5001.

Re:endurance egghead pukes amplified ignorance (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346971)

>For all the rest, amplified ignorance is vastly superior to no signal at all.

In the same way that a randomly generated map of a minefield is vastly superior to no map at all. LOL What a vapid argument.

Re:Citable (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39347003)

Wikipedia does not trust academics either. Academics don't understand the byzantine Wikipedia rules so that they can fix obvious errors that they are experts on, and Wikipedia puts up rules to ensure that people who are not long time frequent Wikipedia editors are not able to do any edits. Even when there's a firestorm over ridiculous Wikipedia obstinance they'll finally let the expert make the changes but still telli all the media about how the rules are not broken and the expert just was too naive to do things the right way.

Part of the problem is that Wikipedia learned early on that the wisdom of crowds is a mostly a myth. So to fix that they added many rules over time that filter out both crowds AND wisdom.

Re:Citable (5, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346725)

This is mainly due to the fact that there is no "stable" Wikipedia -- things change so quickly that citing Wikipedia makes it very difficult for anyone to actually look up whatever you were citing. If there were "snapshots" that were widely distributed, say at the end of each year, one could simply cite those snapshots.

There are stable snapshots, and you don't have to wait for the end of the year to get them:

  1. Go to the article you want
  2. Click on "View History"
  3. Click on the most recent date in the revisions list

There, you now have an URL to an immutable version of the article as it is when you read it. Even if the base article is edited afterwards, your link will never change.

Re:Citable (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346751)

When I was in school, citing encyclopedias was forbidden. If an encylopedia was used, it was only as a tool to find 'real' references.

Since I was out of school long before online sources became acceptable for citing, I have no idea how that was handled, but I wouldn't imagine Wikipedia being off limits is really different than how encyclopedias were used.

Re:Citable (1)

Bonobo_Unknown (925651) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346979)

Paper encyclopaedias are not great for citations, they are not current, or contemporary - they don't reflect the state of research as it is now. You certainly can't use them past grade school if you want to make a decent effort on that paper.

Re:Citable (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346513)

You will never be able to cite Wikipedia in a paper without looking foolish.

I've cited wikipedia when reviewing journal papers before when someone has got a basic piece of maths wrong. It makes the point very well that there was no excuse for that kind of ignorance.

Re:Citable (1)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346843)

I've cited wikipedia when reviewing journal papers before when someone has got a basic piece of maths wrong.

And if they resubmitted the paper with the math corrected and citing Wikipedia for their choice of method?

Yeah...

But I guess, if you're reviewing journal papers, you already knew that reviewers comments aren't 'citations' - merely pointers to the author to consider adjustment/correction/expansion/inclusion. Except the cases where said reviewer is obviously wanting to bump up their own / a colleague's citation count.

Re:Citable (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346585)

You will never be able to cite Wikipedia in a paper without looking foolish. It really isn't designed for that

Encyclopaedias in general were not designed for that. The method you outlined should have been used if your got your information from EB as well, and you would have looked foolish if you'd cited any encyclopaedia in any university-level paper.

Re:Citable (3, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346601)

You will never be able to cite Wikipedia in a paper without looking foolish ... Then again, any paper that only cites encyclopedias (paper or otherwise) isn't a good paper.

These statements are both true, but far too specific -- replace "Wikipedia" with "an encyclopedia" in the first sentence and strike the word "only" in the second, and you've got it. You should never cite an encyclopedia in a paper, period, unless you're writing a paper about encyclopedias. Any encyclopedia is best use as a tool for gaining an initial understanding of a subject and as a starting point for further research; Wikipedia is no different from Britannica in this regard.

Re:Citable (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346339)

A well-written Wikipedia article should include citations to the relevant statements. So, instead of citing Wikipedia, you can look up where the Wikipedia contributors got the information from and cite that. In some areas one doesn't even need to do that- the well written math articles generally contain proofs of the major claims in question, so you can verify the proofs yourself.

Re:Citable (3, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346351)

If you were citing the Encyclopaedia Britannica, then your papers weren't worth much in the first place. Look up the citations on Wikipedia, read them, and cite those.

Re:Citable (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346565)

You should never have been citing encyclopedias in the first place. They're not a primary source.

Re:Citable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346829)

Wikipedia will actually be a useful reference when I can cite it in a paper without looking entirely foolish.

That would be when you write a paper about what Wikipedia has to say about itself.

Otherwise, you should be citing the sources Wikipedia has, unless you're talking about something online, in which case it's dialogue, not academia, and a far different thing.

Re:Citable (1)

Bonobo_Unknown (925651) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346947)

Wikipedia is extremely useful as a reference, it provides links to papers that you can cite. Looking to Wikipedia or any encyclopaedia to use as a citable reference is just a little bit lazy really.

Who? (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346287)

Is this, like, someone trying to print Wikipedia or something?

Not going to miss... (1)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346305)

Not going to miss the obnoxious 80's commercial though [youtube.com] .

Re:Not going to miss... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346433)

80's commercial

You do realize that says 1992 at the end of it?

According to Wikipedia.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346315)

Battlestar Brittanica ran on the sify channel for 4 seasons.

as opposed to toxic lead circuit board verision (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346323)

seriously, like to see a real serious apples to apples life cycle enviromental cost comparison

Britannica is still around... (5, Informative)

Mindragon (627249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346345)

They will still have their website, software and other products still around. They are just discontinuing the book series and blaming Wikipedia (not modern progress) for this change.

Re:Britannica is still around... (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346603)

Correct. IPad-ica Britannica should be much better, since the paper ones people could only buy once or twice a lifetime, and could never stay up to date.

Sore losers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346367)

"Particularly Wikipedia, which in 11 years has helped replace the authority of experts with the wisdom of the crowds.'"

Bitter, much?

Re:Sore losers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346903)

They probably brought their "experts" to Wikipedia to "fix it up," then got reverted and blocked for improper sourcing, POV edits, and edit warring!

And nothing of value was lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346369)

Good riddance. I always wanted a set growing up and when I got my first job I bought a set. What a disappointment. Grossly over priced pretentious crap living off of a reputation I'm not sure they ever deserved. If you want a paper encyclopedia there are a lot better options than Britannica.

Now, what to do about... (2)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346385)

phone books?

Re:Now, what to do about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346455)

seriously.. my god getting rid of phone books would be epic!!

Phone books? (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346537)

Phone companies: provide paper copies only to those customers that explicitly ask for one (opt-in), and charge for the printing / shipping costs.

Customers: don't ask for one, unless you have a very good reason to keep a paper copy around.

Oh wait - where I live (NL), that's already how it works... (and the vast majority of people do without a paper copy these days).

Re:Phone books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346847)

No. Verizon drops a yellow pages on my front porch every year (and I get my phone service from Clear Communications). Mine promptly goes into the recycle bin.

Re:Phone books? (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346961)

Phone companies: provide paper copies only to those customers that explicitly ask for one (opt-in), and charge for the printing / shipping costs.

I wish they did that here. Hell I get 3 phonebooks and end up getting rid of all of them. We Only use cell phones. We have internet on our phones, if we can't use them to get the number then we can't make a call so there's really no point in wasting the paper (at least on me).

Obligatory XKCD (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346399)

http://xkcd.com/978/

Bigger things to worry about (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346439)

Like the loss of jar jar in 2d.

A cold future (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346449)

On the one hand it makes perfect sense to end publication of a very resource intensive and expensive product that is easily digitized. On the other hand, It feels like a very cold future where the charm of a dusty old book with the feel of leather and paper, the sound when you flip a page and smell of aging is gone. To look back into what was at the time, and unable to be changed or modified, as it was set in print is sad to be leaving.

A sad year... (1)

Richard.Tao (1150683) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346499)

I've been the biggest proponent of Wikipedia for all my life, and avidly used it in school (citing it, and the sources it cited, to my teacher's ire) since 5th grade. But jesus, just hearing about this causes my heart to ache. Encyclopedia's are great endeavors, and are important as a long term collection of knowledge that could help restart civilization in case, I don't know, Israel and Iran start throwing nukes.

best investment (5, Interesting)

pinguwin (807635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346509)

I think the best investment my parents ever made in us kids was buying an encyclopedia. I can't tell you how many hours I sat in our library (a room filled with books on two walls and a giant map on the third) reading about all sort of subjects under the sun and subjects far beyond the sun. Lots and lots of time. I would just pick up a volume and open it at random and start reading. So it's kind of sad that the printed version is going away. Once in sixth grade, in response to some knowledge I gleaned from my encyclopedias, said, "Do you just sit around and read encyclopedias!?" I replied, "Yes, I do."

Re:best investment (2)

mvdw (613057) | more than 2 years ago | (#39347021)

Me too! One of my childhood rainy-day activities was to start at a random article in our World Book Encyclopedia (1973 edition FTW!), read it, then go on to the "see also"'s, etc etc. It would end with about a dozen volumes laying open all over the floor as I was too lazy to replace them as I'd read them... Even though the 1973 edition then in the mid-late 1980's was probably out of date for modern-day things, it still was useful for history etc.

Great Books of the Western World Series (3, Interesting)

nickmalthus (972450) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346547)

I hope they don't stop printing the "Great Books of the Western World" series too. I plan to buy the series in the next few years. Of course that collection is timeless and will not change like contemporary topics do.

Might have to finally get a set! (2)

slasher999 (513533) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346555)

Growing up in the 70s and 80s I always thought I would have my own Brittanica on a shelf in my office/library/den one day. I'm in my 40s now and never got around to it, although I've been tempted in recent years but the problem with keeping the information current always made me decide against it. Knowing this may be my last chance, I might just have to finally splurge.

Dr. W.C. Minor (1)

linatux (63153) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346571)

spins in his grave

Ended for me 20 years ago (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346573)

When my teachers started prohibiting use of encyclopedias for reports since the articles were considered to be too terse. Never looked at one since. OT, that reminds me that I tried reading them from A-Z as a kid, only got to C though.

good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346577)

it was overpriced anyway

But... but... (1)

c (8461) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346643)

...but how will Luddites teach their children?!?

12,000 years from now... (5, Funny)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346647)

"Scientists have been wondering why historical records mysteriously ended sometime around the year 2012. It's as if humanity decided to just stop writing things down, and left everything to oral tradition. It's sad that we will never know what happened between then and the eventua downfall of one of the greatest ancient civilizations that ever lived."

This happened before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346683)

Before books it was stone tablets and before that it was spoken language and before that it was grunts and hand signals. Technology advances yet the knowledge remains.

George Orwell would approve (5, Funny)

517714 (762276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346723)

Lacking written records certainly facilitates revisionist history. I just read online that Encyclopedia Britannica stopped putting out printed editions over 25 years ago. So how is this news? ;-)

Re:George Orwell would approve (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346841)

The latest version of the 15th edition was introduced in 2010.

Changing times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346787)

Though I used on-line sources for research now, I used to love flipping through old encyclopedias. I'd sit down, pick a random volume and open it to a random page and just read that article. It gave me a wide and varied collection of trivia. Not a huge asset, but interesting and it came in handy in school. A lot of nights were passed just soaking up knowledge for knowledge's sake. Somehow visiting Wikipedia and hitting the "random page" button just doesn't feel the same.

Do I smell a little butthurt here? (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346809)

After reading the story title I immediately looked up Encyclopedia Britannica's article on Wikipedia [britannica.com] . As expected, more than half of the article (714 out of 1378 words) was spent on the Issues and Controversies section.

G'damnit (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346859)

I wanted a copy of this Encyclopedia for my library.

I'd buy it... (1)

Vlaix (2567607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39346883)

... if it were to be printed on vellum. I can't trust anything written on paper : it doesn't get past a few centuries and it's clearly a rather cheap way of transmitting anything.

thnkss (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39346885)

thnkss http://www.ert8.com/vb/

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