The Encyclopedia of Life v2:…

The Encyclopedia of Life v2: Providing Global Access to Knowledge About Life on Earth by Cynthia S. Parr, et al. (Biodiversity Data Journal 2: e1079 (29 Apr 2014) doi: 10.3897/BDJ.2.e1079)


The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL, aims to provide unprecedented global access to a broad range of information about life on Earth. It currently contains 3.5 million distinct pages for taxa and provides content for 1.3 million of those pages. The content is primarily contributed by EOL content partners (providers) that have a more limited geographic, taxonomic or topical scope. EOL aggregates these data and automatically integrates them based on associated scientific names and other classification information. EOL also provides interfaces for curation and direct content addition. All materials in EOL are either in the public domain or licensed under a Creative Commons license. In addition to the web interface, EOL is also accessible through an Application Programming Interface.

In this paper, we review recent developments added for Version 2 of the web site and subsequent releases through Version 2.2, which have made EOL more engaging, personal, accessible and internationalizable. We outline the core features and technical architecture of the system. We summarize milestones achieved so far by EOL to present results of the current system implementation and establish benchmarks upon which to judge future improvements.

We have shown that it is possible to successfully integrate large amounts of descriptive biodiversity data from diverse sources into a robust, standards-based, dynamic, and scalable infrastructure. Increasing global participation and the emergence of EOL-powered applications demonstrate that EOL is becoming a significant resource for anyone interested in biological diversity.

This section on the organization of the taxonomy for the Encyclopedia of Life v2 seems particularly relevant:

Resource documents made available by content partners define the text and multimedia being provided as well as the taxa to which the content refers, the associations between content and taxa, and the associations among taxa (i.e. taxonomies). Expert taxonomists often disagree about the best classification for a given group of organisms, and there is no universal taxonomy for partners to adhere to (Patterson et al. 2008, Rotman et al. 2012a, Yoon and Rose 2001). As an aggregator, EOL accepts all taxonomic viewpoints from partners and attempts to assign them to existing Taxon Pages, or create new Taxon Pages when necessary. A reconciliation algorithm uses incoming taxon information, previously indexed data, and assertions from our curators to determine the best aggregation strategy. (links omitted)

Integration of information without agreement on a single view of the information. (Have we heard this before?)

If you think of the taxon pages as proxies, it is easier to see the topic map aspects of this project.

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