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Friday, July 18, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life

I attended some early meetings about the Encyclopedia of Life. A very nice idea. Not a Wikipedia model. More of an alternate model of bringing together experts in institutions to provide knowledge. You can apply to become a curator of knowledge, but you need to be affiliated with an institution. Later in the year they plan to allow general contribution, which will then be curated for inclusion. Does not seem to developing quickly since I looked at it last year. Encyclopedias work when there is sufficient critical mass. You won't use an encyclopedia unless it provides you useful information most of the time. Accuracy is important, but first there has to be something there. "80% of success is showing up"? This professional model for knowledge archiving is worth following. A sample entry page, which has some intriguing aspects, like a level of detail slider. Though a bit too academic in tone. Compare it the Wikipedia article on the same topic. I am no judge of their accuracy, but which would even a science educated person get more from?

"What is EOL?
Welcome to the first release of the Encyclopedia of Life portal. This is the very beginning of our exciting journey to document all species of life on Earth.

Comprehensive, collaborative, ever-growing, and personalized, the Encyclopedia of Life is an ecosystem of websites that makes all key information about all life on Earth accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world .... "
Update: In this case the Britannica has a good, detailed article.

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