The Definition of Success

I’m quite the fan of Wikipedia. I know, I know, it’s an unreliable source of information because anyone can edit it, filling entries with all kinds of misinformation and outright vandalism. (Except, of course, that while anyone can edit entries, no one can easily skate by Wikipedia’s editors for very long.) Wikipedia isn’t written by accredited, degreed experts, so you can’t use it as a real source like you can the World Book or Encyclopedia Britannica.

Whatever.

I’ve spent many hours wandering through entries in the Britannica and in Wikipedia. Given the choice between Britannica and Wikipedia, I’ll generally go with Wikipedia. Why? Let’s go to chapter two of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Here’s what the Encyclopedia Galactica has to say about alcohol. It says that alcohol is a colourless volatile liquid formed by the fermentation of sugars and also notes its intoxicating effect on certain carbon-based life forms. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. It says that the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick. The Guide also tells you on which planets the best Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters are mixed, how much you can expect to pay for one and what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate afterwards. The Guide even tells you how you can mix one yourself. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sells rather better than the Encyclopedia Galactica.

Substitute Encyclopedia Britannica for “Encyclopedia Galactica” and Wikipedia for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and you’ve got my answer. (Wikipedia actually has an entry for “Pan Galactice Gargle Blaster.” Does the Britannica?)

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5 thoughts on “The Definition of Success

  1. As one commercial says, “brilliant!”

  2. Totally awesome and totally correct.

  3. You’ve got that right. If I want information NOW, I go to wikipedia (World Book doesn’t have entries on Final Fantasy X), but if it’s something I need to do a little research on, I’ll go the extra mile.

    For the most part, I want to satisfy my curiosity, wikipedia rules.

  4. wikipedia made everyone forget about h2g2 which had the original goals of the HH Guide…

  5. Wikipedia beats pretty much any other resource *as an introduction* to anything that’s techy or a bit of a niche interest. And the articles are usually pretty well-referenced in terms of links to other sources.

    There’s a rock/goth club in Hull, on England’s chilly North Sea coast, that serves Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters. They use strawberry milkshake and vodka, if memory serves.

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