the Encyclopedia of Life

The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune had reports today about a major new effort online - to catalog every named species in a large, open website to be called the Encyclopedia of Life. This effort, inspired by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, will create a Wikipedia-style site that scientists can use to enter whatever they know about every species of life. It's both incredibly ambitious and admirably realistic - the Wiki format makes this possible as long as enough people contribute.
The new project is at www.eol.org, and it's funded by the Smithsonian Institution, the MacArthur Foundation, Harvard University, and Chicago's Field Museum. Each species will get its own web page, obviously. What remains to be seen is how committed the creators will be to fully open access to all the content - if it's truly shared by the whole world as they seem to be saying it will, then it will be a great resource.

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