What is an Encyclopedia?
An encyclopedia is a record of the knowledge of mankind in the form of writings compiled with information from the various branches of knowledge. By the number of issues that an encyclopedia can deal with, may be presented in one or more volumes, being able to get to an important collection of books. Volumes contain the information divided into articles of each issue that the encyclopedia is intended to cover, and are usually ordered alphabetically.
The term encyclopedia derives from Greek enkyklios paideia, meaning "rounded education", meaning "general knowledge". It is known that since thousands of years man has summarized his knowledge, but in 1541, the term was used in a book by Joachimus Fortius Ringelbergius called Lucubrationes vel dimittere absolutissima kyklopaideia. Later, in 1559, the Croatian Pavao Skalić used the word in his book Encyclopaedia seu orbis disciplinarum tam sacrarum quam prophanarum epistemon. Currently, in Spanish the word encyclopedia, is used while in English, normally the word encyclopedia, is used especially in America. In the United Kingdom, also used the word encyclopaedia.
If it comes to compendia, one of the oldest preserved encyclopedic records is the history Naturalis of Pliny the elder, a Roman who lived in the first century after Christ. In his work of 37 chapters, it included topics as varied as natural history, medicine, geography, geology, art and architecture, and many others. Another old record was the work of San Isidoro de Sevilla, etymologies, who wrote shortly before his death between 627 and 630 a.d.. 20 books with topics such as grammar, metrics, rhetoric, dialectic, mathematics, religion, medicine, agriculture, and many others, he was one of the books used in the education of the middle ages.
In the 18th century, developed the concept of encyclopedia which is currently handled with a general purpose and mass production. It highlights the name of Denis Diderot, among several important encyclopaedists. They were writers and scientists of that time who made the famous Encyclopédie, compiled all the scientific knowledge to try to see the world from a different perspective to the customary religion and metaphysics. In the 20th century, the concept of encyclopedia became more popular and, in addition, with the new knowledge, numerous works were carried out. Ending this century, new encyclopedias on CD-ROM, were developed to be used in computers. It highlights the modern Encarta from Microsoft. Today they also highlight free encyclopedias, allowing such as Wikipedia, that information is published by users around the world through the Internet, thus giving an impressive amount of topics, more than previously seen.
Fundamental characteristics of an encyclopedia may include the following: is a text summary in comparison with other works. Since it must contain many themes, the information is presented in a synthetic way. Articles that contain, are rather objective, so there are no opinions. They are limited to expose the corresponding facts. The exposed information is the work of several authors; in fact, there are articles that are made for the work of hundreds of different people. The amount of information for each item is limited according to the total size of the work.
In terms of content, it is necessary to be of universal interest, i.e., that you might be interested to anyone and not to a group in particular. They must also maintain interest over time; passing information should not be used. In addition, the organization system is generally to the concrete, the limit of space and for the work to be self-sufficient, without having to search in other texts.
Currently, most important encyclopedias are the encyclopedia Espasa (Spanish), British (English origin), Larousse (of French origin), Brockhaus (German), the great Soviet encyclopedia (Russian), La Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze (Italian), large encyclopedia Portuguesa e Brasileira (Portuguese), among others.