Feeling rather Puritanical about my faith–my faith in Education, that is

And if there were a church of Internet faith, a puritan would read from the book of wikipedia, the repository of global knowledge not tainted by commercial sin or secret self-interest. Institutions like Encyclopedia Britannica by contrast are tarted up like a Popish whore.

I got the ad that follows from EB, which (for younger readers) used to be the most prestigious information source known to man.

Notice first how clever they are–to co-opt wikipedia and sell you a prestige item:  “You, yes, you can be a member of the distinguished Britannica team!”  To an older reader, this is pretty neat. Read a bit further, though, and see how they actually want you to pay to be their slave:  full participation (read access to complete articles) only goes to those who pay.

I know they have to make a living, too. But Jeez! It’s knowledge, and learning we’re concerned with. To charge for human growth and development seems a lot like charging for water or oxygen. Get out of the way, knowledge broker–let the essential inputs for human life  flow so we can all live excellent lives. Go do something else. The act of extracting private gain off the human right to pursue knowledge and learning seems inhumane. There is a human right enumerated (#26) in the International Declaration of Human Rights–a right to an education, a right to learn. So find a living in something that forwards the enumerated goals of “freedom, justice, and peace.”

Britannica’s approach strikes me as a lot like car salesmanship–Come into our dealership and enhance your social identity. Drive out in our vehicle and your status changes. There are cars, and then there are Cadillacs; there is knowledge, and then their is “distinguished” knowledge. Jesus, throw these money-changers out!

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