With a heavy heart I announce the cease-print of the famous Encyclopaedia Britannica, after 200 years.
To be honest, my heart isn’t really heavy – this was bound to happen, and more would follow suit in the near future. Blame it on the digital age + need for profit.
I had no foresight of this event when I tweeted about E-books on the 9th of March, 2012:
There are so many reasons why I would miss the E.B (and other iconic prints dancing on the brink of extinction), even though I haven’t flipped the pages of one in ages…
The presence of an encyclopaedia on your living room shelf meant more than the content, it passed on a cultural message about you (and your family). Any guest who walked in knew that this was a family that appreciated knowledge, are educated, enlightened and somewhat respected (that may be pushing it though). In some instances, it was a signifier that you were of a particular social class.
I remember back then as an high school student (in Junior classes), we looked up to Senior Students with so much awe and respect just by the size of the textbooks they carried (even if carrying them didn’t guarantee an escape from F9 parallel). I remember how they held those intimidating Chemistry, Physics and Biology volumes all on one arm, with a formidable scowl, while we hopped from the dinning hall to classes cradling 70 and 30-paged Integrated Science and Technical Drawing textbooks against our chests.
Others would miss the Britannica for the page-flipping satisfaction they derived from it – the nostalgia of 200 years, lost to the increasing power of Mr. Digital-Age.
However, would the death of print signal the end of knowledge?
Jeff Jarvis, Proffessor at New York University doesn’t think so.
I suppose knowledge is dead only to those who refuse to seek it – otherwise, it never dies.
A disadvantage of print losing out to screen is that the distinction between ‘work’ and ‘play’ would increasingly become blurred. There might no longer be that feeling of “this is serious business” when you grab a “serious book”. It would take extra dosage of “seriousness” and discipline to read the book as it should be read.
However, the shift is inevitable and I suggest all soon-to-be Digital Immigrants key in and make the most of it; if not, Digital Natives would overtake you and I would have a good laugh watching you on ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5 YEAR OLD 😀
Have a fab weekend.