Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Britannica for bloggers

When Google Reader reveals that none of the bloggers I follow has written anything today, and none of my friends has updated his/her Facebook status, *and* there's nothing much going on by way of important world news, I find myself browsing the feeds marked 'worky'. Top of this list is the IWR blog. I read it partly for old times' sake - while working for this publication back in the 20th century I was briefly the second most prominent information industry journalist in Europe (out of two); partly because it is pleasing to see what started as the Learned Infonet, one of the UK's first commercial websites, that was run blog-style by m'ex colleague Ben MORE THAN TEN YEARS AGO, finally get taken seriously by its owners (we were so ahead of the times); and partly because it is actually, if you are geeky in the way that I am geeky, actually quite interesting.

I think it was this way, or perhaps from a link that I followed by going this way, that I found out that Encyclopedia Britannica is offering a year's free access to anyone who creates or manages web content. What happens at the end of the year is not clear, but they don't ask you for credit card details when you sign up, and I have done it, and I am rather enjoying it, fan that I am of serious reference works, and possessing as I don't a copy of the Big One.

I am a huge Wikipedia user, but I'm not the first to observe that it's gone off a bit of late. There are too many bad writers with agendas out there, and the balance is tipping their way. We've all read the 'wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica' story, but I think it depends what you're looking up.

Anyway, not only can I now search Britannica for free, I can link to any article in it from joella and then anyone can read that article. So, for the non-bloggers... any requests? Give me a topic, I will wax lyrical about it and then link to the sober, fact-checked, professionally edited reality. Or just the latter, if it's about sport.



Blogger Ben said...

K-rikey, it was 10 years, wasn't it? I have to say its present form all looks far too swish and slick for my liking. I bet its maintainers couldn't manually code their way out of a paper bag.

Highlight of my web maintenance career: going to a seminar by Susan Hallam on web design, at a conference organised by us, and seeing our own company site held up as an example of bad design ...

9:18 am  
Blogger Jo said...

I bet its maintainers rarely come across anything as unshiny as a paper bag.
Was that in the Dave Franklin era of giant background images that took hours to download? Or still in the grey-screen-and-courier days?

9:58 am  
Blogger Ben said...

Oh, grey-screen-and-courier. Strictly old school. That was one of the things taken issue with in the seminar. Afterwards I wrote a fierce memo to the powers-that-be which directly inaugurated the Franklin era.

2:30 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

Hey, look! Franklin-era evidence! I was remarking just yesterday that the flashing images on my esteemed employer's 'refreshed' home page were "very 1998". I was met with a barrage of 'miaow!'s, but now I can prove it...

4:38 pm  
Blogger tomato said...

So WHY for the love of Barbara don't they come and ask you about these things before uploading the chunky cartoon font and 'retro' pinwheel graphics? Huh???

*shakes head in disbeleif*

1:15 pm  
Blogger tomato said...

....look, I got so irate there that I gave you a typo too! I don't beleaf it!

1:16 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

That, Tomato, is a very good question. And not one I can answer while remaining in line with the Blogging Policy. I shall seek alternative means...

10:26 pm  

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