Much of the knowledge that serves me well today was gained as a child sprawled across the carpet in our 'study' just flipping through encyclopaedia pages and reading what interested me.
Children of subsequent generations will never know that joy.
That being said, it's all part of the general flow of things. Change is inevitable!
Maybe there is an iPad app in here somewhere that mimics this behavior ;-)
The feeling of pages ruffling past your thumb as the words flew past you at lightning speed, the slight upward draught created by the screaming pages...and suddenly stop thud stillness -- not knowing whether it was a word or a colour or a picture that caught your attention, but here you were, another page, but a whole new world to discover. The whole process almost imitates the way your mind moves -- fast movement between subjects...and still contemplation within them.
Contrast that with the "tap" or "swipe" on an iPad or the "click" of a mouse and it all just seems a little...bland.
This got me thinking about API's and the limitations of hardware in providing experiences, and then I realised that the ultimate consumer computing device would be some kind of "possibility field" that could morph into whatever was required by the user.
The hardware itself would be an API called by the user's interactions...ah one can dream, right? :)
Even today, I remember using the venerable (1911) eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica as a starting point for numerous research papers on topics as diverse as the r the history of classical mathematics to the repeal of the English Corn Laws. While the information was often far from definitive, it always provided an excellent starting point for subsequent research. An added pleasure of a well used set of those volumes was the traces of previous seekers of knowledge. A forgotten piece of pater here and a faint underlining there could be a great reassurance when you though your were off in the weeds alone.
While the physical print runs fo the Britannica have come to an end, happily several of the classic editions are now in the public domain and are thus accessible to a vastly greater portion of humanity than was every envisioned by the founders of this noble project.
The most expensive software edition is $40. It is listed as containing "Over 100,000 articles"
Surely it doesn't cost over a thousand dollars to print 32 books?
For example, the fans of Jack Vance published an authoritative 44-set of his collected works, printed and bound similar to an encyclopedia. It was a nonprofit volunteer effort. The "reader's edition" was supposed to cost $1250 a set, but the price ultimately had to rise to $1500 to cover costs. The all-leather "deluxe edition" cost $3000.
Why torture such a noble product as an encyclopedia by putting it in competition with modern internet distribution and price, better that they put it out of it's misery.
What we need are wikipedia ebook devices gets updates via rsync. Something like a Kindle DX with an SD card and wifi.
Printing books isn't just about printing books. Someone actually has to come up with the contents and this person has to be paid!