Saturday, April 19, 2008

Britannica Free For Bloggers (Britannica Via Techcrunch)

I saw on TechCrunch today that the Encyclopedia Britannica was making all its online content free to any blogger who "qualified". More than that, by signing up I would also be able to direct any of my readers to full content versions of articles on Britannica's website for free as well (no more stubs!). The catch, of course, is that the hyperlinks in the free article (the one I send you to) will only then take the reader to the Britannica stubs unless the reader is a subscriber. I guess the concept is that if a reader sees how great a Britannica article really is, they will want to pay the 70 bucks for a year long subscription...or something like that.

Anyway, I wasn't sure if I would qualify but I submitted SAM to be scrutinized by our British friends (sign-up was dead easy) and, surprise, surprise, they "accepted" me. Very decent of them, I must say.

Anyway, let's try it out. By clicking this link you should be able to go to the full text version of Britannica's article on intelligence. Or by clicking the word intelligence (as hyperlinked here). If it doesn't work, drop a comment or an email.

I like being able to tap into Britannica's arguably more authoritative data set. I generally link to Wikipedia articles for terms I think might be unfamiliar to readers if I think the Wikipedia article seems accurate enough. The Britannica option allows me to share some of Britannica's admittedly top quality articles with my readers as well. What can I say? Thanks, Britannica!

They also have this nifty widget that allows you to put a short definition or bit of info about a topic into a blog post as well. Here I have put in a widget with Britannica's short take on the CIA.
OK. You are correct. It did not take you to the entry on the CIA. You have to click on the "All Articles" button which will take you to a list of articles which are alphabetically arranged but only sometimes start at the beginning of the alphabet (you have to see it to understand that this must be a bug ... and the fact that I had to go to Wikipedia to get the hyperlink for "bug" in the sense of a software bug tells you that there is still room on the planet for at least two encyclopedias).

Scroll down and then find CIA and it will give you the short take on the CIA. I guess I could have just hyperlinked to the full CIA article. It would have been neat, however, to have the widget start where I wanted it to start but also have all the other hyperlinks from the intelligence article available to the curious reader, just in case they wanted to go exploring. Right now it seems to be generating random entires from the list which means that something wholly inappropriate might pop up when a reader hits the site. I don't want that. This result is magnified by the fact that the title for the random entry is in large black text while the word "intelligence" is in white and slightly smaller text in the green bar at the top of the box. The net effect is to make the reader think the box is about the random entry and not that the random entry is somehow subordinated to the word "intelligence". Picky, picky, I know, but it seems to me that it would take just as much effort to do it right. I also can't place the widget feature where I want to put it on the page without messing with the html code. All in all, the widget feature is nice but not something I will likely use that much.

TechCrunch seems to think that EB is going the way of the dinosaur and that this move is just slowing the comet down, not stopping it from hitting the earth. I am not so sure about that. It seems like a classic loss leader move by Britannica to get bloggers to introduce people to the quality of the Britannica content. Some of the newly introduced will inevitably become subscribers. If Britannica can work a little harder to make their content blog friendly (add a few pictures, guys!), I think it might work.

1 comment:

Ortho said...

Interesting. Thanks for sharing this news. I might start to link to Britannica instead of Wikipedia.