I consider it one of the greatest privileges of my childhood that we had a full Encyclopedia Britannica in the home, and I spent many rainy-day hours just leafing through it and soaking up data about the world. Ah, happy days! [image by Goran Zec]
Had Wikipedia been available back then, I’d have probably developed myopia, RSI and a bad posture far earlier in my life; hyperlinking and universal access are the two “killer apps” of encyclopedias, as anyone who has fallen down the Wikipedia rabbit-hole will know.
Indeed, it appears that even the mighty Encyclopedia Britannica, after years of bitching about Wikipedia’s openness and inaccuracies (the latter complaint, it transpires, being somewhat hypocritical), has realised that locking material away doesn’t work in the new information economy, and they’re granting people the ability to link directly to their content with their WebShare program. [via Phil Bradley]
It’s not quite free yet; they’re granting access to “anyone who publishes material on the web on a regular basis” (bloggers, in other words) and you have to apply for an account (so only bloggers they like), but it’s a step into the Twentyfirst Century for a hidebound institution. Heck, they’ve even got a blog and a Twitter feed.