Anyone remember encyclopedias?

I’m not that old. Right?

By that I mean, I’m surprised at the hysteria amongst students when Wikipedia blacked out the other day in protest of SOPA. Put “Wikipedia” in your Tweetdeck and you’ll be sure to see a litany of rag tag messages decrying the one-day blackout as thousands of students expressed their panic.

Buzzfeed’s compilation is a nice summary of the sentiment felt by kids across the continent. I read through them and thought how weird it was, and that was when I smirked at myself. Things are different now, Nik. Kids don’t go to the library anymore, and what’s more is than they can spell out (umm) in the virtual community how cranky not having their beloved Wikipedia makes them. How dare one source of information go down in protest when information is so hard to come by nowadays?

This is the strange irony: that young students, most of whom are quite apt at sourcing all they need online and and then some, and who readily express any feeling they have online as well, can be so mad at Wikipedia for the consequence of disappearing for one day. Do they truly rely on Wikipedia that much, when so many other sites exist with so much more to offer, with somewhat more credible authorship?

Just wondering.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Anyone remember encyclopedias?

  1. shannon

    You know, I wondered that as well. Forever the dino, I bought my daughter encyclopedias a few years ago and a dictionary so that I could stop her from text – spelling. It’s a big fight.

    Wikipedia is ubiquitous, but is the answer to everything?

  2. On the 18th I also followed what people were saying about Wikipedia going down on twitter. I actually wasn’t that shocked that a number of those voicing disdain were students. In my undergrad I frequently used Wikipedia as a jumping off point for my research as did many other students in my classes. The online encyclopedia was a way for me to get a brief overview of my topic which often led me to higher quality research (since citing Wikipedia is a big no-no in academic papers). I believe when Wikipedia went down it truly shed light on just how many students actually use the site as a stepping stone towards further research.

    • I use wiki in the same way, but I after seeing some of the reactions by students in high school and elementary school, it made me think many of these students don’t take their research a step further. I think that the blackout showed that Wiki has become the one stop shop for information for young students.

      There is no such thing as doing in-depth research anymore, because Wiki does it for them. I’d hate to think that this is true, but if it is we should prepare ourselves for a generation of Wiki Scholars.

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