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Online Encyclopaedias

The Catalan Encyclopaedia, Free

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Free to Students and Bloggers

Wikipedia, the Alternative Encyclopaedia

dijous, 8 de maig de 2008
Encyclopaedias aim to supply the sum of human knowledge or that covered by a specific science. The format in which we have come to know them, as individual articles and ordered alphabetically, these monumental reference works have been with us for less than three hundred years.

But going back to Antiquity, there were works that were considered veritable compendiums of knowledge of the time. Such is the case, for example, of the works of the philosopher and scientist Aristotle, and 'Natural History' by Pliny the Elder, made up of 37 books about anthropology, architecture, astronomy, biology, botany cosmology, geography, and medicine, etc.

The 18th century produced two of the most famous encyclopaedias of all times: the Encyclopaedia of Diderot, which included contributions by some of the leading philosophers from the French Enlightenment (D'Alembert, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire), and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the oldest in the English language, which was first published in the Scottish capital Edinburgh in 1768.

Until not long ago all encyclopaedias were published on paper. Now, however, there are more and more encyclopaedias on the Internet, constantly being updated and with multimedia content. Some sites require users to pay to access them but others are free. Let's look at some of them.

The Catalan Encyclopaedia, Free

+ Since February 2008, the Catalan Encyclopaedia can be accessed free of charge.
The Great Catalan Encyclopaedia (GEC) is the leading encyclopaedia of the Catalan Countries, which has had an online edition since 1997. Since February 2008, the Encyclopaedia, as it has been renamed, can be accessed free of charge, as can the Great Catalan Dictionary and Encyclopaedia which includes articles about Catalan subjects in English. The project is part of a process to update the works and is due to be completed at the end of 2010. The publication will contain 500,000 entries, 50,000 photographs, 2,000 drawings, 1,500 videos, 2,000 maps, 250,000 internal links and 30,000 external links.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Free to Students and Bloggers

+ There is also a student's edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica is, without doubt, the most prestigious encyclopaedia in the world. Its 32 volumes can be consulted over the Internet by means of prior a subscription. But anyone who has a website or blog that is reasonably up to date can access the Encyclopaedia Britannica free of charge using Britannica Webshare, which has just been launched. There is also a student's edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, freely available to Catalan students and teachers via the education portal

Wikipedia, the Alternative Encyclopaedia

+ Wikipedia was launched in 2001.
The fact that the, shall we say, traditional encyclopaedias offer increasingly more free online services can be largely explained by the proliferation of so-called free encyclopaedias, which are possible thanks to the participation of Internet users, who write, expand and correct articles, and add photographs and links. The most important of the free encyclopaedias is Wikipedia, with more than 10 million published articles, counting those in the 253 languages Wikipedia uses. The English-language version now comfortably exceeds two million articles, compared with Encyclopaedia Britannica's 120,000.



  • On 18 January, Viquipèdia, the Catalan version of Wikipedia, published its 100,000th article, a figure that had, at the time, only been reached by fifteen other non-English versions.
  • For each page of the Encyclopaedia Britannica that is visited, 184 Wikipedia pages are viewed.
  • Microsoft's Encarta, one of the first multimedia encyclopaedias, includes more than 42,000 articles, many (although not yet all) of which are free to access.


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Mythweb: enciclopèdia de mitologia grega.
La famosa Enciclopèdia de Diderot (s XVIII), en línia.
Com afegir l'Enciclopèdia Catalana a la barra de cerques del navegador Firefox.
'Naturalis Historia' de Plini el Vell (s. I dC), tinguda per la primera enciclopèdia.
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