Once again, the editors are trying to lure eyeballs through a free access offer. Once again, I have taken them up on their offer. Bearing in mind that I always design particularly challenging tests, I still feel my first experience was a telling one. Because I happened to be chatting about him last night at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, I decided that György Kurtág’s name would make a good test case. I used only his last name, typing it first without the accent. The bottom line is that Britannica could not find a match for his name either with or without the accent. What made this pathetic, rather than merely sad, however, is that the search without the accent turned up a Google Ad for CDs of this composer’s music available through ArkivMusic.com!
In other words Google Ads knows more about Kurtág than Britannica does! Meanwhile, even with the inadequacies explicitly cited by the Wikipedia editors, the Wikipedia entry for Kurtág is as good a place to begin looking for background on this composer as any (unless, like myself, you can get access to Grove Music Online with your library card). Yes, Britannica has a tradition of employing quality writers to provide material for their entries; but, while I am not fan of crowdsourcing, I fear that, whatever their aspirations, Britannica just cannot keep up with the “knowledge explosion.”
Indeed, it would appear that Britannica cannot even muster editorial quality when presenting themselves. Consider this “infographic” included on another one of today’s blog posts:
This is as sloppy as it is jumbled. Would you really want to give these guys your eyeballs?