The History and Evolution of Encyclopedias: From Ancient Civilizations to Wikipedia

TLDR Encyclopedias have a long history, dating back to ancient civilizations like Babylon and Egypt. Over time, they evolved and adapted to new technologies, with the internet ultimately giving rise to online encyclopedias like Wikipedia, which have become the go-to source of information for millions of people worldwide.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The history and purpose of encyclopedias, and their relevance in the internet age.
02:30 An encyclopedia is a comprehensive reference work that provides concise and authoritative knowledge on a wide range of subjects, with the earliest attempts at compiling universal knowledge occurring in ancient civilizations such as Babylon and Egypt.
04:36 The Naturalist Historia, written in the first century, was the largest surviving work from the Roman Empire and covered a wide range of subjects, becoming one of the most important documents of the ancient world and later serving as a basis for other encyclopedias.
06:55 Muslim scholars, including the Basra philosophers and Ibn Sina, created their own encyclopedias, while in India, the epic work Syria Bouvalia covered a wide range of subjects; however, the greatest encyclopedias of the pre-modern era came out of China, including the four great books of song and the Yongle Encyclopedia, which was the largest encyclopedia in the world until the creation of Wikipedia.
09:17 The spread of the printing press did not result in the wide-scale distribution of encyclopedias, and it wasn't until the 18th century that the first modern encyclopedia, the Cyclopædia, was published in 1728, followed by the Encyclopædia in France in 1751, and the popular Encyclopædia Britannica in 1768.
11:43 The business model for encyclopedias changed in the 1950s and 60s, with door-to-door sales becoming popular, but the major problem was that encyclopedias couldn't easily be updated; however, the advent of the internet allowed for the creation of online encyclopedias like Wikipedia that could be accessed by everyone and updated instantly.
13:59 Wikipedia, with over 6.7 million articles, has become the largest and most popular online encyclopedia, leading to the decline of print encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia Britannica.
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