Day's Data - Part 15

0730: What's the difference between Wikipedia and a paper encyclopedia?

With a paper encyclopedia you get to be distracted by more interesting alphabetical order.

I once borrowed an encyclopedia of philosophy for some research on Hegel. The Hegel article was completely unhelpful...but next to it was a fascinating one on Heidegger, and next to that was a good one on Husserl.

Edmund Husserl founded the philosophic school called Phenomenology - concerned with the study of experience rather than reality - and Martin Heidegger was his star pupil, and inspiration to the French Existentialists. He was also a nazi, it turns out, but I still think his ideas on "personhood" are intriguing.

Anyway, soon afterwards I dashed off some generic paragraphs on Hegel, and settled down with my Heidegger and Sartre.

With wikipedia you do the same thing, but in order of tangential relationships.

So I go from petit mal seizures, to prosopagnosia (the inability to recognize faces), to computerised face recognition software, to the Capgras delusion (the belief that someone's been replaced by an identical impostor), to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the history of grave robbing and the life of William Henry Pratt.

I prefer the wiki way of wandering.


  1. Paper encyclopedias are usually more accurate, if sometimes a little dated, but they're backed up by hard core research...whereas any idiot can write a wiki entry. And some of them have!

  2. Wiki's a good starting point if you know little about a subject.

    Even though you can't trust Wiki's content, you can use the more authoritative external links it provides.

  3. Oh, and I love being distracted by hyperlinks.