En­cy­clopae­dia mile­stone a win for ef­fi­ciency

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

Read­ing about the dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of En­cy­clopae­dia Brit­tan­ica in book form re­minded me of the phrase, “Tra­di­tion is the only thing hold­ing back progress” (“Last en­try for En­cy­clopae­dia Bri­tan­nica book form,” Web, Wed­nes­day).

In this case, I have to agree with the state­ment. Hun­dreds of years of tra­di­tion may in­deed have held back progress, but now even En­cy­clopae­dia Bri­tan­nica has caught the ef­fi­ciency bug. How­ever, it’s not al­to­gether un­wel­come.

As a high school stu­dent, I al­ways saw an en­cy­clo­pe­dia as some­thing you learned how to use but that was too weighty for ev­ery­day life, both in size and ef­fi­ciency. It ended up be­ing a waste of time, space and pa­per when com­pared with quick on­line re­sults.

This likely was a dif­fi­cult choice for En­cy­clopae­dia Bri­tan­nica to make, hav­ing to choose progress over tra­di­tion. Such a long his­tory is not eas­ily bro­ken, but the mak­ers of these books chose to go down the path of ef­fi­ciency, and oth­ers may fol­low soon.

Years from now, when the older gen­er­a­tion looks harshly at the younger, won­der­ing why the young­sters do not know how to use a printed en­cy­clo­pe­dia, the younger ones may have the higher arch in their brows, won­der­ing why peo­ple would waste their ef­fort on a set of books just to find a few facts. HAN­NAH EICHEL­BERGER Wood­bridge, VA.

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