Randall Stross on Encarta:
Encarta could not compete, however, against the Web and Google. The Google search engine is an automated, continuously updated, always-expanding guide to information that is completely free. Authority now comes not from a small group of encyclopedia editors and famous contributors but from Google’s algorithms, which analyze links that point to Web pages elsewhere and other clues to make an educated guess about trustworthiness.
Google has effectively enlisted millions of Web page authors, whose links serve as recommendations for the largest editorial board ever assembled. Many Google search results lead off with a pointer to Wikipedia. The crowd-curated Web may have been what Microsoft had in mind when it vaguely explained Encarta’s closing this way: “People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past.”