The encyclopedia genre has played a significant role in the digital world. Even before the World Wide Web, encyclopedias were among the most successful products of the CD-ROM interim. Microsoft’s Encarta was the prime example (though it was a second-rate text licensed, not created, by the software giant), while World Book and others sold hundreds of thousands of copies to schools. Our own Canadian Encyclopedia appeared throughout the 1990s and was successful in retail as well as schools and libraries. Read More
“It is clear that the electronic world will force changes not only in the delivery of the information, but in the very nature of the information itself.”
The Canadian Encyclopedia recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the publication of the printed volumes in 1985. It is in fact 30 years since I began work assembling The Canadian Encyclopedia in Edmonton, Alberta (see my history of The Canadian Encyclopedia).
“Significant: expressive, suggestive, with unstated or secret sense, inviting attention; noteworthy, of considerable amount or effect or importance”
- Oxford English Dictionary
One of the words that recurs in the making of reference works is “significance.” While the word “encyclopedia” either means or implies “all the knowledge in the world,” and one might call a Canadian encyclopedia “everything you wanted to know about Canada,” of course this was never literally possible. So when you make a reference work you have to make choices and hope that in the final product at least you represent “all the knowledge,” or represent the totality of the given subject, be it baseball or Canada.