When I was a kid, we didn't have online access to anything. Either yourparents were rich and generous and bought you the latest set of encyclopedias, or they were poor or cheap, and you hoofed it to thenearest library.
Now, I rely heavily on Wikipedia, and other wikis, to find information I need.The key here is the ability to find stuff. With the old 27-volume set ofencyclopedias, you had to know what word something would be filed under, andhow to spell it, so that you could find it. Today's search facilities are much moreforgiving. If you guess wrong, you are only a few clicks away from what youwere really looking for, in a Kevin Bacon six-degrees-of-separation kind of way.
Wikipedia is now looked at more often than CNN.com or the New York Times website.Why? It is amazingly good at summarizing a situation in succinct terms, even fornews "as it happens". The recent episode at Heathrow airport a few weeks agoserves as a good example. I was in Washington DC that week, on my way to Miami and Sao Paulo,Brazil, so it is good to have the news I needed, when I needed it.