Friday, March 16, 2012

The joy of discovery with an encyclopedia and an #iPad

Discover for the iPad
Since Encyclopedia Britannica announced yesterday that it was stopping its print version after 244 years the news media I read online have been full of comments like this one:
   “Not surprising but still very sad. I always loved going through the copies we own and see what page I will find something I would have never thought existed. It was always a bit of an adventure to say the least."
   Everyone seems to assume that the pleasure of randomly coming across an article in Britannica cannot be replicated with Wikipedia, but it can. There's a lovely iPad app called Discover by Cooliris that is designed to encourage just this sort of random discovery. When Discover is launched, it displays a front page featuring a random Wikipedia topic in a friendly magazine style. If that topic doesn't interest, shake the iPad and a new topic is displayed. Clicking a topic brings up more details and related content. If you're want to search for something specific all of Wikipedia is available to you. It's a great app that encourages exactly the sort of chance encounters with fascinating stuff so many of us remember enjoying as kids on a rainy day.