By Megan McArdle
The beginning of the end for the authoritative print encyclopedia was this 2005 Nature study, which found that in entries about science topics Wikipedia contained an average of 3.86 mistakes per article–but that Britannica contained 2.92 mistakes per article, putting the “free encyclopedia anyone can edit” within earlobe flicking distance of the shelf-bending gold standard.
Back in the ’90s, before we had kids, I bought a set of the Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge a volume or two at a time at the supermarket. This was in the hope that they could use them for school! Well, today our children are always trolling for info online, and the only time they look at the encyclopedia–which I still like–is when our Internet connection is down!