25 Comments

  1. Even the name of “Wikipedia” and other similars would not make any sense for someone not familiar with the term “encyclopedia”.

    (BTW, yes to type that I had Jiminy Cricket sing the spelling to help me.)

  2. Of course, Mitch, mightn’t a young person assume Wikipedia is the original word and that encyclopedia might be a variation on it?

  3. Why would a young person ask “Why do they call it Wikipedia” in the first place?

  4. For that matter, would an old person ask “why do they call it encyclopedia” in the first place?

    … dang, now I’m curious. Okay, in 1530, it meant “a general course of education”, probably from people who were only vaguely paying attention to Greek. They used “enkyklios paideia” to mean “general education”, but it kind of more literally means something like “spinning kids around in circles.” The use of the term to mean a book of general knowledge comes a bit over a century later, in 1640, and a couple famous ones were published in the first quarter of the 1700s, as ways to try to promote Enlightenment-era values, and bring learning and knowledge to people more democratically, instead of allowing the Church and other powerful centralized groups to control it.

  5. I just asked my 11-year old if he knows what and Encyclopedia is, and the answer was “no.” (But he wouldn’t be stupid enough to think it’s a copy of a search engine.)

  6. I just asked both my 7 and 10 year olds, and they both knew. The 10 year old said he thought most kids his age would know.

  7. Winter, if he’s anything like my kids were, he probably overestimates what other kids his age know.

  8. Kids wouldn’t be that unoriginal.

    A kid would get the concept but might wonder why the Internet wouldn’t be better as it’s bigger faster and cheaper. A kid might say “so it’s like the Internet on paper” and expect to be acknowledged for making the connection but not think it’s ironic or backwards and not get why an adult would scoff. But no kid would think book was a printout of the Internet.

  9. There are also some cool technical volumes published a century ago available online called Cyclopedias.

    The kid is nearly correct…one can purchase paper books composed of articles gathered from Wikipedia or antique texts from Google Books.

  10. There was a formally interesting novel called “Encyclopedia” — the story was told via a sequence of nominally informative entries, I think organized alphabetically by headword. As I recall, it was fun, though not an achievement in the “Pale Fire” class of course.

    But the real fun is in trying to locate it on Amazon!

  11. I wish I had posted my prediction before I surveyed my kids (it came out exactly as I thought it would). My daughter had no idea what “encyclopedia” meant, but my son both knew the word and he was able to translate it into German (“Lexikon“), which in turn was immediately recognized by his sister..

  12. Mitch4: My “Advanced-WorldCat-Fu” turns up:

    Title: Encyclopedia /
    Author(s): Horn, Richard (Novelist), author.
    Corp Author(s): Grove Press, ; publisher.
    Publication: New York : Grove Press, Inc.,
    Year: 1969
    Description: 157 pages ; 21 cm
    Language: English

    SUBJECT(S)
    Descriptor: Bohemianism — United States — Fiction.
    Bohemianism.
    Genre/Form: Fiction.
    Geographic: United States.
    Note(s): Includes half-title page.
    Class Descriptors: LC: PS3558.O687; Dewey: 813/.5/4

    and entries at Goodreads etc. make it pretty clear that’s the one you’re recalling.

  13. Thanks, Shrug. That is indeed the one I meant — I recognize the author’s name now that I see it.
    “Bohemianism” eh?
    Also, I did not know WorldCat, pretty cool!

  14. In a new video, The Lock Picking Lawyer deals with a 60s-vintage telephone dial lock. He includes a discussion of the reason for these and a demonstration of how dial phones work for “younger viewers”.

  15. I remember reading the World Book Encyclopedia (spelled it without the song) as a child. I would take a volume I had not read and start reading it. Even now if we don’t know what something is I will tell Robert that I am a lookie – we never guess we look it up – this was a book/club which came with the World book.

    If my sister had a pain in her side and mom started worrying if, say, it was appendicitis I would look in the H volume and check the see through person to see where the appendix (of a person not the encyclopedia) was located.

    Now I am wondering if the encyclopedia and year books were sold or thrown out in clearing out the house.

  16. Meryl, nice story but I’m missing something — how did you land in the H volume? (Did you mean to say ‘A’?)

    There used to be one of those “we enjoy eccentrics” interviews / guest spots on NPR, specifically on Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon, with a guest who was reading an encyclopedia sequentially (I think a print edition of the Britttannnica) and at subsequent check-ins he would report his progress. Later he was thru with that and doing something else, and wanted to be taken more seriously.

  17. I didn’t mean that I played the song to get the spelling, but just heard it in my head.

    On the off chance that anyone here doesn’t recognize what song we’re talking about, here it is:

    Also, it took a while for me to understand that “Jiminy Cricket” , like “Jeepers Creepers!” or other interjections with the initials “J.C.” were ways of saying “Jesus Christ” without offending those bothered by “taking the name in vain.” This clearly was the Disney folks’ intention when Jiminy Cricket first appeared, in the Pine-Eyes-Boy story as a moral guide of sorts.
    It also clarifies how the “Junior Chamber of Commerce”, known as the “Jaycees”, a business/charitable lodge, have some sort of collective savior self-image!

  18. … and then we found out that World Book Encyclopedia was secretly one of Mickey Mouse Club’s sponsors…

  19. how did you land in the H volume? (Did you mean to say ‘A’?)

    Probably “human anatomy”.

  20. Mitch4 – No the H volume – Human body – there was section with a couple of clear pages with parts of the interior of the body printed on them – one would be lifting layers of them- and I would find the exact location of things such as the appendix (of the body, not the book) on it.

  21. Meryl, thanks for verifying – Brian’s guess was pretty convincing, so I’m glad it was close enough.

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