Friday, March 21, 2008

The Encyclopedia Of Life Adds Pages

The Encyclopedia Of Life ("EOL") has a lofty goal: to collect every bit of information about every type of organism together in a single, user-friendly website. The last time Biolaw discussed the EOL ("Writing The Book Of Life", May 22, 2007), the website was a great idea, but lacked any substantial content. All of that changed on February 27, 2008, with the first release of EOL. As the press release trumpeted,
First 30,000 EOL pages unveiled online for public “alpha” test and feedback; placeholder pages for 1 million species built in 1st year of 10-year project
However, everything did not go smoothly. In fact so great was the interest in the newly-posted information about such rock-star organisms as the Humpback Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis gibbosa) and the Zygomycete fungus, Peridiospora reticulata, that the website crashed soon after its first release was posted. The fans of biodiversity had rushed the stage.

The EOL website is now back up, and functioning. However, its detailed biodiversity content has a distinctly fishy-smell so far, with a disproportionate number of the completed species pages covering ray-finned fish. These pages are wonderfully rich in information, data, maps, and photographs. Once the project adds more types of organisms the result is sure to be spectacular - if only the legions of biodiversity fans can control themselves.

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