Thursday, May 17, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life - A Semantic Web effort?

We were traveling and doing photography on river, stream and spring restoration efforts in Nevada when we heard E.O. Wilson describe the exciting effort to create the Encyclopedia of Life on the radio. When we returned to Boise I began to see many references and found a web site to this amazing collaborative networking project. For an excellent multimedia overview of the project view the flash video on the home page. A banner on this page contains the words: "Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth available everywhere by single access on command."

A brief summary of Encyclopedia of Life objectives follows:

"Ultimately, the Encyclopedia will serve as an online reference source and database for every one of the 1.8 million species that are named and known on this planet, as well as all those later discovered and described. Encyclopedia of Life will be used as both a teaching and a learning tool, helping scientists, educators, students, and the community at large gain a better understanding of this planet and all who inhabit it."

In blog posts last year in November, I wrote about concepts and development related to the Semantic Web. To me it appears that the Encyclopedia of Life will become a major contribution to the way we can find dependable deep knowledge about life and ecosystems on earth. Significantly the Encyclopedia of Life will use a Wikipedia type model with written and other content coming from a wide variety of sources. A FAQs page notes that "This material will then be authenticated by scientists, so that users will have authoritative information. As we move forward, Encyclopedia of Life and its board will work with scientists across the globe, securing the involvement of those individuals and institutions that are established experts on each species."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Shallow and deep ecological thinking

There is an interesting distinction often made between the way we humans engage in shallow and/or deep thinking about important processes that affect human beings and other life forms on earth.

I plan to study and write more in the future about these thinking processes and how they appear to influence contemporary decisions about ecology, economy, science, sociology, etc.

As a starting example related to human made global warming, it seems clear to me that an overwhelming majority of scientists worldwide are trying to think more deeply about the obvious human and ecological consequences and possible solutions to this huge and growing problem. At the same time some politicians and business corporations appear to be practicing shallow thinking about this issue and prefer to try to preserve some short term human economic gains. Representatives of this shallow thinking seem to prefer these shallow economic gains even at the expense or even the demise of other important life forms and ecosystems.

For now, I will post a few references that I have bookmarked and will add more comments about this topic in the future.

Bill McKibbon's Book -- Deep Economy

A short overview of Systems Theory and the Gaia Hypothesis

Green Economics - From Wikipedia

Deep Ecology - from Wikipedia

Deep Science

Jared Diamond Books:

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Interesting PBS web site

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed - Interesting Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County web site.