Monday, March 24, 2008
In 2004, I had the privilege of being invited to take part in a workshop about the design of an online Encyclopedia of Life, which would catalogue essential details of the1.8 million known species of animals, plants, fungi, algae, protists, bacteria and viruses. Scientists, computer mavens and a couple of SF people (myself and the august John Clute, who is a trustee of the Telluride Institute, which organised the workshop -- he can be seen kneeling at the right of the group in the photograph above, taken with my trusty keyring camera), spent a pretty intense time in the little town of Telluride, Colorada, discussing what needs an Encyclopedia of Life could satisfy, and attempting to design a useful template for its pages. Much more work has been done since by a small army of unpaid volunteers, and now a site housing the first 30,000 pages has gone live. Although I made but a microscopic contribution, I feel immeasurably thrilled that it’s up and running.