Monday, March 10, 2008

Work In Progress

You may have heard about the Encyclopedia of Life. If you haven't, it's supposed to be the only resource which will include every living thing on this planet. Admittedly, it's a work in progress.

Never before has there been a one-stop-shopping place for every single living organism. And EOL will endeavour to do just that. Apparently there's 1.8 million known species to date. And the creators are very excited about this Wiki-type encyclopedia, which will have contributions from scientists and amateurs alike.

Being the curious sort that I am, I decided to search "lion", clicked on "African Lion" and got back the result "we have not obtained authenticated information yet". I then searched "cat", clicked on "house cat", and got the same report.

But they do have 25 "exemplar" pages all ready for me to look up. I can learn all about the American Burying Beetle. That is ready to go, along with 24 other species.

I wonder why they decided to release it? It does have promise, after all. Perhaps they thought if they launched it now, they would attract contributors. After all, even Wikipedia had to start somewhere. But perhaps a little less on the fanfare, and more proactive in asking for contributors to come forward. But I guess nobody asked me, did they.

I don't mean to rain on EOL's parade or anything, and I do admire their sincerety and belief in reaching their goal. I really do. But if you ask me, I just don't think they're quite ready for prime time yet.

Visit the Encyclopedia of Life.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

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