Thursday, March 15, 2012

End of an Era - Encyclopaedia Britannica

Felt an inexplicable sense of loss reading an article that Encyclopedia Britannica was doing away with its print edition after 244 years. It played such a major role in my life that makes me feel a little sentimental at the old ways coming to an end, paving the way for the current digital age. For most of us and especially for me it was a boon as we didn't have access to the kind of technology and online resources that are available today as compared to the 80s and early 90s.

So when I read this news, I was transported back to the day that I received 20 hard bound copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the topics ranging alphabetically from A to Z. This was the most precious birthday present I received from my parents not only for the value but also because these books were my companions at an era when Google did not exist (apologies to Bing but an online search will always be termed in my brain as google). It was not only a useful source of information and inputs from around the world, but the primary use was helping me and my Dad solve the daily crosswords in The Telegraph.

The Encyclopedia Britannica brought back memories of a quieter, simpler life; a time that seems to be getting lost in the hustle bustle of the modern digital age. Reminds me of those numerous evenings spent solving crosswords and jumbles in the verandah of our sprawling tea garden bungalows. A time when life was so uncomplicated that little things would bring so much joy. Living away from civilization amidst the beauty of glorious nature in remote locations with no phones, internet and yet it was a
beautiful life. A luxury in today's fast-paced world.

Even though it's hard for me to let go of memories, I think it is definitely more practical to have eBooks and save on space when so much information is available online and for the important fact that it helps reduce wastage of paper. I know my mind is caught between the two worlds - the old with almost no access to technology, and the new crowded gizmo world, but it is truly the end of an era for the Encyclopedia Britannica printed books. And though I will miss the memories associated with it, it is time to move on.