The essential encyclopedia

The first thing I bought on credit, back in 1979, was a complete set of Encyclopedia Americana. Yes, it was sold to me by a man going door to door. A flash from the past!

I lugged those 20 volumes everywhere I went — and I moved a lot in my 20s and 30s. I loved them. I’d have fits of curiosity and sit by the bookcase cracking open volumes, tracing ideas from one reference to reference. Friends would call me sometimes to settle arguments, knowing I had that handy set.

I finally got rid of them in 2000, after I got my Ph.D. and moved to Muncie for my one year as an assistant professor at Ball State University. By that time, the World Wide Web had been invented and it was becoming increasingly possible to look stuff up without lugging around heavy boxes of books.

Looking at this picture (scavenged from the web) does make me nostalgic for those evenings on the couch, with six volumes of encyclopedia spread around me.

 

My 21st century BFF

I look up something in Wikipedia nearly every day; usually many times a day.

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