The end of a very long era

No more Encyclopedia Britannicas in book form

Today marks the end of an era that stretches 244 years. Encyclopedia Britannica announced it will no longer produce its volumes in hardback book form. From now on it is web only, baby.

My school career is marked with the memory of encyclopedias spread across my home desk, school desk, and library desk from elementary school through college. Every report or speech meant lugging out the huge volumes of the encyclopedias and spending hours looking up numerous topics to make sure my subject was thoroughly researched. I was so tired of wrestling with those huge books that I often wished there were some way all that information could be condensed to a small object I could easily access.

I must have been ahead of my time because now that is exactly what has happened. Tremendous amounts of information is easily accessible and at my finger tips as they dance across the keyboard of my laptop computer. We can now go online to read the encyclopedias and other resource books. In fact, I haven’t opened an encyclopedia in many, many years—even though I have a set stacked in the corner of my office gathering dust.

When the Encyclopedia Britannica began in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1768 the thought of condensing all that information onto a small computer chip was as farfetched as walking on the moon. Oh yes, we’ve done that too!

The company plans to mark the end of the print version by making the contents of its website available free for one week, starting today.

The World Book Encyclopedia remains the only printed encyclopedia. They will celebrate their 95th anniversary this year.






Auld Lang Syne

Image via Wikipedia

 This is New Year ’s Eve and around the world people will stand together at the stroke of midnight and sing a melancholy song that, on the surface, makes absolutely no sense—Auld Lang Syne.

The title, Auld Lang Syne, literally means “old long since” or, “long, long ago”. Therefore, the first line of the song which says “for auld lang syne” is loosely translated as “for the sake of old times.

Auld Lang Syne is an old Scottish poem attributed to Robert Burns who copied down the ancient poem and probably elaborated upon it and then set it to the tune of an old Scottish folksong. It is a tribute to old friends and good times should they never be forgotten.

As 2010 fades away and we go into the unknown future of 2011, I now take a moment to remember all my friends and family and hope we never forget the good times we have had. I offer you a toast and we will drink a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne.

Here is hoping all of you reading this will have a happy and healthy new year.