May 4, 2008

Britannica Failure

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Information Supernova — Robert John Ed @ 1:07 pm

A week or so ago I attempted to start implementing Encyclopedia Britannica definitions to supplant the norm of Wikipedia. The reason was that Britannica is running a promotion where they will give away the use of their database to people who have a blog or website. It’s a good idea, but it’s not working here.

Amping up their distribution and getting the product in front of people is very smart move, and what’s more, the promotion itself will make a lot of ripples.

But it’s not working here. And my guess is it isn’t working a lot of other places as well. There are a lot of reasons. The first is ease of use, where you have to log in to Britannica to use the system, which isn’t fun. Then there is the fact that Wikipedia is far more comprehensive in terms of subject matter. It covers a lot more ground, the reason being that it has thousands of writers. Sure the quality on Wikipedia compared to Britannica isn’t as perfect (it’s visceral to Wiki designs), but it’s damn close. And it’s good enough.

Good enough. I think a lot of businesses get by with good enough, and usually that’s a bad thing. This time though, good enough became category leader. This warrants further reflections.


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