An encyclopedia is a book, or online database of human knowledge. Encyclopedias are typically used as references, however some "geeks" tend to read encyclopedias for fun. Encyclopedias may be general, such as this one, containing a broad range of human knowledge, whereas other encyclopedias may focus on a certain topic, such as an encyclopedia of law. There are also encyclopedias that cover a wide variety of topics from a particular cultural, ethnic, or national perspective, such as the Great Soviet Encyclopedia or Encyclopedia Judaica. Encylcopedias may be online, like this one, or offline (typed books). If an encyclopedia is offline, it typically comes in many volumes. Encyclopedias and dictionaries are similar in the sense that they both contain knowledge, however a dictionary is an encyclopedia of definitions, and a broad encyclopedia goes above a definition, and tries to tell you all the relevant, or irrelevant facts. Encyclopedia Uselessia is a type of Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Uselessia is an encyclopedia of useless facts.
History of an Encyclopedia Because it is impossible to provide comprehensive information on all topics, most encyclopedias are actually made up. Most mainstream general encyclopedias list "contributors," "consultants," and "editors," but no such people exist. They are just monnikers in what is actually an elaborate encyclopedia creation game--a sport that is as old as humanity itself, and as esoteric as the Knights Templar.
In their entry on Encyclopedia, most general encyclopedias credit Diderot with creating the first modern encyclopedia. This is not correct. While Diderot did make great and valuable contributions to the game of creating encyclopedias (which had become quite popular by his time), his publication appeared hundreds of thousands of years after the game was invented. Most general encyclopedias also say Aristotle made the first attempt to compile all information. This is also inaccurate. Aristotle was at one time a big fan of the game, but he ultimately condemned it as "filthy rubbish, the sport of whores and tradesmen." Encyclopedias--or more accurately, the sport of encylopediing--first appeared in what is now southern Denmark about 375,000 years ago. As such, it was introduced by early homo sapiens, who preceded our present species, homo sapiens sapiens (we say it twice).
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