Wednesday 5 August 2015

World Wide Web

You just can’t trust the World Wide Web!

When I was younger, if I needed to look something up I would go to a library and find the reference section. There I would have a choice of Colliers, Britannica, World Book or Oxford Encyclopaedias. I would look for the pertinent volume, Hr to JO and take it with me to a table to find whatever it was I needed to research. Often the entry I found was a great starting point but I needed to do more research which meant other encyclopaedias. The encyclopaedias would lead me to other books that had some pertinent information on my subject.

The search was far more fun than the article I was writing. When I found the info that I was looking for I would begin flipping pages and read about many other things that had nothing at all to do with my research. I could read about the odd and strange things in my world and the world of the past. More often than not, I would forget all about the initial search and just enjoy reading about totally unrelated subjects.

Today, printed encyclopaedias are a thing of the past. I don’t know any company that still prints encyclopaedias, opting instead for digital versions. Those digital versions are more than likely far superior to the old printed variety, being able to include video and links to related articles. I will probably never know because to get a membership with the Britannica would cost me about $70 a year. If I did a lot of research or had oodles of money I wouldn’t hesitate, but just on the off chance I might sometime look something up????

Besides, there is always Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia that anyone can contribute to and edit. The theory being is that if there is an incorrect article, someone will set the record straight. I guess that works most of the time. I mean really, who needs very intelligent people who spend their lives researching a subject and submitting the research to a group of equally intelligent people who vet the information.

Wikipedia is the dumbing down of our society. We seem to be gravitating towards a world where everyone has an equal and mediocre education. The internet has vast amounts of information that is made available to almost everyone. The information should be taken with a grain of salt, but it is information.

Be careful about information from the internet. It may be good or it may be just mediocre and it could be someone’s creative writing.

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