Education: Circle of Learning

If you had to invent the Encyclopaedia Britannica today, would you do it the same way? That was the question posed in 1957 to members of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Now—17 years and $32 million later—the editors have disclosed their answer: No. The new 15th edition, which was unveiled at a press conference in Manhattan this week, is heralded as "the first new idea in encyclopaedia making in 200 years."

The editors decided that an alphabetical collection of unrelated articles —the traditional Britannica format since the first edition in 1771—was no longer adequate in an era of explosive...

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