How would you like to have instant free access to knowledge from experts – including renowned biologist, naturalist and author E.O. Wilson – in English, Arabic, and Spanish – about life on Earth? We’re talking information on 700,000 species, 35 million pages of scanned literature, and 600,000 photos and videos.
It’s yours with the Encyclopedia of Life – EOL.org – now in version 2. EOLv2 was announced less than an hour ago (September 5, 2011).
Like EOLv1, its predecessor, EOLv2 is a free online collaborative currently offering information on more than a third of all known species on Earth. Its makers say v2 has new features making it easier to use and to interact with fellow life enthusiasts worldwide. Hey, and isn’t that all of us? So come on down.
Harvard University biologist Edward O. Wilson is one of the driving forces behind the formation of the EOL, which was founded in 2007 and is currently based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Wilson said of EOLv2:
… [it] will effect an extraordinary expansion of the Encyclopedia of Life, opening its vast and growing storehouse of knowledge to a much larger range of users, including medicine, biotechnology, ecology, and now increasingly the general public.
So where does all this info come from? Some 176 content providers contribute to EOLv2, and 700 “curators” review the information for accuracy. They say they aspire to produce 1.9 million pages, or one for every species known to science.
EOL’s makers say they want the website to become “a microscope in reverse,” or “macroscope,” helping users discern large-scale patterns related to Earthly life:
By aggregating information on Earth’s estimated 1.9 million known species, scientists say EOL could, for example, help map vectors of human disease, reveal mysteries behind longevity, suggest substitute plant pollinators for a growing list of places where honeybees no longer provide that service, and foster strategies to slow the spread of invasive species.
EOL is available both as a website and via third-party mobile and desktop applications. All EOL information is available for reuse and is licensed under Creative Commons and other Open Access free licenses.
Bottom line: E.O. Wilson’s Encyclopedia of Life, now based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. released version 2 of its free online collection of imagery and text on September 5, 2011. EOLv2 has information on 700,000 species, 35 million pages of scanned literature, and 600,000 photos and videos.
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