A number of high profile scientific institutions joined together last week to announce the Encyclopedia of Life, a global project to document on a Web site every one of the 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other organisms. In essence, the Encyclopedia of Life will run along some of the same lines as the Wikipedia, although contributions may be limited to scientists with expertise in the subject, a restriction that may both slow the growth of the project and avoid some of the errors and argumentativeness that exist in Wikipedia. But from the standpoint of those who need information about living organisms, the Encyclopedia of Life’s demonstration pages look extremely promising, bringing together written information, photos, video, audio, maps, and more, and presenting it all in an interface that can be scaled to the reader’s level of experience. There isn’t any live information yet, but it’s worth viewing the demo pages, reading the FAQs, and watching the video on the main page.
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