Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Open the book of Life
The BBC reports the opening of the book of life, a vast encyclopedia which aims to record all the species on the planet.
It suggests that the creation of this resource may be as great as the invention of the microscope. Not sure how, exactly, as one was a tool for seeing things never before seen and the other is a record of them. That's not to underplay the vast job of work which is being undertaken. Oh wait. Having visited the first pages, I see... I see. It will be possible to submit pictures and information, seek out information about a species... if you are passionately fond of butterflies or cormorants, you will be able to submit information to the people responsible for curating those pages. Even the pages with no information except a title, already provide links to historical papers and books mentioning the species. Thus a quick search for Green Woodpecker brings up Cambridge University papers, books published in the 19th century, reviews from the British Museum. What a fantastic resource this is!
Those who watch the TED talks from the TED conferences will be aware that one of the inspirations for the EOL project was the TED talk by E.O. Wilson in outlining his TED wish. That was in March 2007. That the first volume is opening now, and that it is being curated all over the world, is a marvellous thing.