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(View of book when extended).
Pedia, a static hyperlinked botanical encyclopedia, combines the conventions of a botanical encyclopedia with that of the vast, virtual, free content Wikipedia. The ubiquitous internet has prompted a shift in the way information is accessed, enabling endless amounts of material to be sifted through streams of outlets and accessed anywhere in the world. A very popular information outlet that has gained the reputation in contemporary society of providing fairly fast and 'accurate' is Wikipedia.org, "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit," and where over "3,032,736 articles in English can be found" (Wikipedia, September 12, 2009). The widespread use of Wikipedia demonstrates the shift in the ways in which large amounts of information are accessed (via web rather than books), as well as created (anyone no matter their qualifications or lack there of may add to it), and validated (as it has created a regime of truth around it based on group consensus as opposed to that of an authority source). In Pedia, two forms of information acquisition, book and web, are brought together in order to provide an answer to a popularly-searched question: is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? This question offers a rather appropriate starting point because it represents the kind of fast and banal information for which Wikipedia is so useful and popular. Using the conventions of a botanical encyclopedia, the work incorporates text and illustrations to communicate information about the initial question in a somewhat convoluted way. The text, drawn from Wikipedia, references plant taxonomies that would be found in a botanical encyclopedia through 'links' that take the form of a web using a rather intricate, non-linear narrative. The text is fragmented through the use of text boxes that serve to parallel the experience of reading an article from Wikipedia, which is interspersed with hyperlinks that redirect the reader to more information than the reader can realistically retain. The illustrations connect back to a more visual tradition of information acquisition, incorporating anatomical intricacy and enhanced by watercolour. Pedia challenges the act of reading and explores the ways in which information is acquired and retained (or not) in a contemporary context.