When I was a kid we replaced one set of encyclopedias with a newer set of the same type and brand. When the new ones arrived the whole family unpacked them and sat around comparing the two editions. The new ones were crisp and clean, without finger smudges and worn covers, and a different color. When it came to the articles inside, we found that lions hadn’t changed at all in the ten years between editions, but the map of Europe was very different. We were all happy to have up-to-date reference materials, ignoring the fact that these too would become out-of-date just like the last set before it.
That ‘new’ set of books is still on the shelf, now decades old. Recently, when some friends of mine and I were playing a DVD trivia game, we were looking up some of the answers in those encyclopedias and others on the Internet. It struck me that every book I own is, to at least a small degree, out of date. However, the Internet is constantly being updated. The latest advice on treating snake bite is added, as are the most recent facts about actors and writers. The NASA site (www.nasa.gov/) has the most modern facts about other planets, and up-to-date pictures of them. In fact, I’ve been told NASA sometimes shoots live web casts, so we can see other planets at almost the same moment as the NASA scientists.
I like books, but I’m using the Internet more and more. Knowing I am reading the latest information is comforting. It is ludicrous to even suggest giving ‘this Internet’ to charity and having to buy a new one.