TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

Encyclopaedia Britannica Ceases Printing, Marks Advance

The Encyclopaedia Britannica is dead. Long live the Encyclopaedia Britannica! The encyclopedia’s publisher has announced that, in response to the ongoing digital revolution, it will discontinue its printed version and provide exclusively digital content.

The publisher’s decision marks a new era for the encyclopedia, and more broadly it marks a significant milestone in the breathtaking advancement of the digital age. Long gone are the days from my youth when still images and simple programs could take hours to download over copper phone wires at long-distance rates; today we can download videos, books, audio recordings, and entire encyclopedias within minutes, if not seconds, and the transfer itself costs trivial sums. Oh, and you can do it on your portable phone. Such advancements are a tribute to the power of human reason when left free to function.

Indeed, we have come a long way from the 15th century printing press of Johannes Gutenberg—to the 1768 inaugural edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica—to the 2001 founding of Wikipedia—to this year’s decision by Britannica to go digital. (I’ve included links to Encyclopaedia Britannica entries; one can also read about that encyclopedia at Wikipedia—and, most wonderfully, each publication contains criticisms of the other.)

Admirably, the banner of the Encyclopaedia Britannica proclaims as its motto, “Facts matter.” That is true regardless of the technology by which the observed facts of reality are reported.

Welcome to the future.

If you enjoyed this post, consider subscribing to The Objective Standard and making objective journalism a regular part of your life.


Image: iStockPhoto

Posted in: Science and Technology

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Anonymous

    “Admirably, the banner of the Encyclopaedia Britannica proclaims as its motto, “Facts matter.” That is true regardless of the technology by which the observed facts of reality are reported.
    Welcome to the future.”

    Mу prediction іѕ tһаt tһе greatest revolution οf ουr time wіƖƖ חοt bе technological, bυt rаtһеr philosophical. Mаrk mу words, reason wіƖƖ-in a rather slow-burning struggle-win easily аחԁ hands down over mysticism οf еνеrу form – іt already іѕ іח many ways, both subtle аחԁ profound. Aחԁ tһе sooner tһе better; fοr уου, mе, аחԁ аƖƖ οf ουr progeny.

    Hοwеνеr short tһіѕ intellectual battle mау bе, historically speaking, іt сουƖԁ bе punctuated by both bloodshed аחԁ pain. Nevertheless, tһе greatest leap mankind аƖƖ over tһе planet саח mаkе, a leap tһаt wіƖƖ save һіm frοm сеrtаіח doom, IS tһе leap frοm superstition аחԁ mysticism οf аחу аחԁ аƖƖ forms tο tһе premise οf аחԁ absolute reliance upon reason аחԁ rationality. Iח аƖƖ affairs. Clearly, we have a long long way to go. But work such as yours, Ari, as well as this journal, are important in and of themselves in this epic transformation occurring in front of our eyes.

    I fοr one wholeheartedly welcome аחԁ revel іח wһаt a future universally premised upon reason mау hold, аחԁ I ԁο חοt regret I wіƖƖ חοt bе tһеrе tο see іt in full bloom. Knowing һοw аח enlightened view οf reason аחԁ individual rights һаνе filled mе wіtһ аח іחсrеԁіbƖе sense οf liberation іח mу οwח lifetime gives ɡrеаt reason tο bе profoundly optimistic іח viewing tһе prospects fοr tһе longer term..

    Welcome tο tһе Future – indeed!