Encyclopedia Britannica launched in April a new, competitive to Wikipidia program, called Britannica Webshare . It provides free access to articles if you are a “web publisher.” The definition of a web publisher is rather squishy: “This program is intended for people who publish with some regularity on the Internet, be they bloggers, webmasters, or writers. We reserve the right to deny participation to anyone who in our judgment doesn’t qualify.” "Basically, you sign up, tell them about your site URL and a description, and they review it and decide if you’ll get in.”
As a blogger I have registered on Monday, the "UJ Science Librarian blog" for a free access to the full-text articles. I haven't received yet an official e-mail confirmation, but today I have been granted a full-text access to the content. I have put number of subject widgets on the blog, from where you can search the encyclopedic entries. If you click on "all articles" you will view the different entries in alphabetical order. If you click on "full article" option you will view the full article on that specific entry.
According to "widgets blog" post (20/4/08) the "online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica is a good thing for academic research and what can be the opposite of the Wikipedia".
You can link to the full content of a Britannica entry, without having to have a paid subscription. The Webshare programme offers topic clusters and widgets to bloggers and other web publishers which can be embed on the blog ( see on the left side of this blog). Widgets (also known as gadgets) are miniature objects or applications that contain dynamic content, which can be easily embedded on your own Web site or a customizable homepage.
According to "WebProNews" blog post (21/4/2008) “Britannica’s conversational and lay content style, plus embedded video and other content on the same page give you a rich multimedia experience”
WebShare seems to be something best described as a rough release. Britannica, in a brief news piece on its site describing the debut, announces that the company has “‘soft-launched’ the WebShare site” and further states that “a ‘hard launch’ of the initiative is being planned.
This free access to Encyclopedia Britannica will be a good addition to the subscribed online encyclopedias (AccessScience, Oxford Reference Online, etc.). There are number of inconveniences while you are reading the articles ( I will leave you to find it for yourself), but I hope they will not prevent you for searching. I hope the undergraduates will make a use of these articles.
Ask me if you have any probles or questions.
Click on: http://www.britannica.com/bps/home to access Encyclopedia Britannica full-text