For archive (Updated on February 12, 2019)
“Chamber’s Cyclopaedia” was one of the earliest encyclopedias. It covered 40+ subjects.
In our younger days, we had “Pear’s Cyclopaedia” and “Pear’s soap”. The company was probably building its brand name by supporting the publication of an encyclopedia.
My uncle had a set of “Encyclopedia Britannica”. It covers many topics written by SME (Subject Matter Experts). Yearly supplements were published. After 2018, there will no longer be printed editions and supplements. There will only be on-line subscription.
In my younger days, my parents bought me “Myanmar Swel Sone Kyan” (Burmese Encyclopedia).
Wikipedia is a collection of encyclopedias in multiple languages. The English edition of the Wikipedia is the largest. The accuracy of the Wikipedia is comparable to that of established encyclopedias such as “Encyclopedia Britannica” thanks to the countless volunteer contributors and editors. I was a volunteer to correct discrepancies.
For example, a young author wrote that St. Paul’s High School in Rangoon was the first of the De La Salle Schools in Burma. He was unaware that St. Patrick’s High School in Moulmein was the first. St. Paul’s was the second.
There is a slight chance that there are errors in an encyclopedia (or an equivalent “book of knowledge”). One author was unaware that Rajiv Gandhi was the elder son of Indira Gandhi. Rajiv was a pilot and entered politics only when his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi (touted as Indira’s confidante and successor) was killed. Corrections may be made in a later edition of print.
Some authors are unaware that UNSG Secretary General U Thant is the eldest and wrote that Pantanaw U Khant is U Thant’s elder brother. Another author wrote that ICS U Tin Tut’s assassination preceded the deaths of the Arzanis. U Tin Tut did not attend the Cabinet meeting on July 19, 1947 and escaped death, but he was assassinated in September 1948.
The advent of Internet and the rise of “Collaborative Work” have lowered the time and cost to maintain encyclopedias.
A few years back, I received a call to submit entries to “Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife“. I emailed to the editors that I was willing to help them on the Burmese section. They sent me four samples and asked me to send back one short article (not exceeding 500 words and with two or more references) on a chosen Head Word (e.g. Burmese American Festivals).
They reviewed my article and accepted me. The remuneration was $10 per article. I replied that I would like to have a copy of the 2-volume encyclopedia. The deal was struck. They would give me the encyclopedia if I submit at least 8 articles. Nine articles were accepted, but they merged two articles with the work of other authors. One author was a Burmese Roman Catholic priest with a doctorate from Berkeley. Another was probably a graduate student in social science, who inserted the wrong date for Martyr’s Day. The Editors promised to correct his error in another edition. I received a 3-volume encyclopedia (initially projected to be 2-volume) and an additional $10.
Some are not aware of “Google Books”. They simple use “Google Search”. If one goes to “Google Books” and search for my name, one can find the nine articles.
Revision and enhancement
The “Myanmar Swel Sone Kyan” is under re-development with the help of SME (Subject Matter Experts).
Dr. Thane Oke Kyaw Myint wrote :
When the Americans bought the Encyclopedia Britannica, they asked Dr. Htin Aung to review and update chapters on South East Asia and South East Asian countries. The updated articles he sent were under different names: Maung Htin Aung, M H Aung and just Htin Aung. It was at the time when he was a Fellow at St. Anthony’s College at Oxford.
Le Carre called this College of Spies as many graduate students at that time were from CIA, FBI, and MI5. Mentioned it in his book “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”. He himself worked in British Secret Service.