It has been hard to wait for the launch of Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) since we first heard about it at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2006. This week species from all over the planet get to celebrate, as EOL launched the first 30,000 species pages along with 25 exemplar species pages that contain a rich multimedia user experience- for us humans.
According to the EOL blog the site was so popular in the first few hours after going live that they crashed the servers.
E.O. Wilson, Harvard University Professor Emeritus, in 2003 set the seeds that would become EOL in an essay calling for a 'dynamic modern portrait of biodiversity'. You might think of it as Natural History 2.0.
"In the first 24 hours (minus the approx. 3-4 hours we were completely down) there were: 18.5M hits, 13.3M page views, and 940GB of data transferred."
EOL Defines itself as:
"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. Our goals are to:
* Create a constantly evolving encyclopedia that lives on the Internet, with contributions from scientists and amateurs alike.
* Transform the science of biology, and inspire a new generation of scientists, by aggregating virtually all known data about every living species.
* Engage a wide audience of schoolchildren, educators, citizen scientists, academics and those who are just curious about Earth's species.
* Increase our collective understanding of life on Earth, and safeguard the richest possible spectrum of biodiversity."
The most exciting part is that you can become directly involved in this immense project.
"EOL is an unprecedented global effort and we want you to be a part of it. Natural history museums, botanical gardens, other research institutions, and dedicated individuals are working to create the most complete biodiversity database on the Web, but without your help it cannot be done. Here are some ways in which you can become involved:
* Participate in our survey. EOL is a collaborative process. We seek your input on the first version of our portal to help us improve it. Please share your thoughts with us by clicking on the button below.
* Become a curator for a species page. Volunteer to be the curator (authenticator) for one or more of the minimal species pages. To do so, click here and send us your name, institutional affiliation, and the name(s) of the page(s) you would like to curate.
* Provide content. Later in 2008 we will set up a mechanism for anyone to contribute species-related content (photos, drawings, text, video, etc.). The curator(s) of the species will consider the submissions for incorporation into the authenticated species page.
* Become a donor to the EOL. While initial funding for the EOL has been secured, additional resources are needed. We invite you to make a donation to EOL by clicking on the button below."
Take a video tour, browse the beasties, and reconnect with the wonders of the natural world.