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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Isn't the printed encyclopedia becoming obsolete?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) January 16th, 2011

Isn’t the printed encyclopedia going by way of the T-Rex and the 8 Track? The world seems to change so quick that any printed encyclopedia would start becoming irrelevant in about 3 year, if that long. With just about everything available in near present day fashion why would you need a set of printed encyclopedias that can’t update by the week or day?

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14 Answers

Arbornaut's avatar

Because if the sun decides to let a larger than life ‘coronal mass ejection’ rip, and that happens to destroy every piece of electronic circuitry on the planet.. Well, it might just be handy to have a few dusty old books lying about the place.
Thats one reason amongst others, although i see where your coming from.

Bellatrix's avatar

Might make handy steps when you can’t reach a high shelf? They can also be very funny when you read some of the entries in very old encyclopedias. Really though, yes, I think they are becoming obsolete.

perspicacious's avatar

Not at my house.

downtide's avatar

Yes. We had a set, and we donated them to the local library. They were pretty old and a lot of what’s in them is fairly out-of-date.

Cruiser's avatar

Yes….use your Betamax and phonograph players as bookends.

john65pennington's avatar

Back in the 70s, i bought my children a complete set of World Books. they were just loaded with information. my children used them as a reference on many occasions.

I will agree with you that any type of book, of this nature, is just about obsolete, the day it hits the printer.

We live in a communication and information world, today. everything changes so fast.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My husband and I were just talking about this the other day. I loved having encyclopedias when I was younger. I think they will always have a place, but the print versions are definitely losing their momentum. Information gets updated and changes pretty quickly. Look at college text books, they get new editions practically every 2–3 years. I’d love to get a set of encyclopedias for our children, but right now I feel like having our access to the internet is the best way to keep the information up to date. Sure, if the internet ever goes poof or if all electricity is ever gone there would be an issue. For that reason, I hope libraries continue to keep encyclopedias in stock as well as book stores.

the100thmonkey's avatar

I just bought a treeware encyclopaedia for my son today.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that the pace of change invalidates the concept of an encyclopaedia; it behoves the writers, planning editors and editors to ensure that the information contained in an encyclopaedia is relevant and not subject to constant revision.

E=MC² has been around for nearly 100 years. It may be shown to be inaccurate later, but at the moment it’s the best model we have and it would be madness to deny the importance of Einstein as a figure in the history of science, just as it would be to deny that Da Vinci has had an indelible effect on Western culture.

filmfann's avatar

Encyclopedias quickly become out of date, and the internet is a simple replacement, but I will miss how easy it is with encyclopedias to learn about things you had no idea about. You can just open a book, and read on a random topic. While the internet is amazing, it does lack a randomness.

even though a lot of stuff online does seem random

Carly's avatar

I just checked my encyclopaedia set. According to it, the last president in office was Bill Clinton..

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

I guess so, but when it comes to general information and writing a research paper, some teachers actually want you to use the printed encyclopedia.

bea2345's avatar

The printed book will be around for a while yet – at least until they invent a computer that will run indefinitely without needing to be recharged. If you live in a country where the power supply is not 100% reliable, or at least 97% reliable you cannot depend upon the computer. It is only fair to say that we have a good service but this is also a country where power can go without notice for short periods and you never know when this will happen.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

For school (remember, I’m homeschooled), when I write a paper, at least one of my research items has to be the encyclopedia. We have 2 sets – one that was a high school graduation present to my dad (in 1968) and one 1985 set that we picked up at a garage sale for free.

They’re stored in the most amazing closet in our house. It’s a bit tight now, but when we were younger, my brother and I would spend hours in there reading the encyclopedias because it was fun. They had about 10 or 15 fairy tales in the “fairy tale” article. We had a lot of fun reading those. Too bad my brother has dibs on the house once my sister and I graduate. I would love my kids to be able to live here and have memories like this.

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