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Text Update : January 2, 2021
“Chamber’s Cyclopaedia” was one of the earliest encyclopedias. It covered 40+ subjects.
In our younger days, we had “Pear’s Soap” and “Pear’s Cyclopaedia”. 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. The final supplement came out a couple of years ago. There will no longer be printed editions. There will only be on-line subscription.
- 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 the “Encyclopedia” thanks to the countless volunteer contributors and editors.
- I was a volunteer to correct discrepancies (mostly entries on Burmese/Myanmar). For example, a young author wrote that St. Paul’s High School was the first among the De La Salle Schools in Burma. He was unaware that St. Patrick’s High School in Mawlamyaing was the first (and was established a few months earlier than St. Paul’s).
No Absolute Perfection
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. He was a pilot and entered politics only when his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi (touted as Indira’s confidante and successor) died in a plane crash.
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. I replied that I would like to have a copy of the 2-volume encyclopedia. A deal was struck. They would give me the encyclopedia if I submit at least 8 articles. Nine articles were accepted. Two articles were merged with the work of other authors. One author was a Burmese College Professor. Another was probably a graduate student, 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”.
- If one goes to “Google Books” and search for my name, one can find the nine articles.
In my younger days, my parents bought me “Myanmar Swel Sone Kyan” (Burmese Encyclopedia).
I heard that the “Myanmar Swel Sone Kyan” is under re-development with the help of SME (Subject Matter Experts).