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."

No comments: