Orientation to EOL
EOL goals and history
EOL was launched with support from the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation as well as our five original Cornerstone Institutions- the Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Institution. A synopsis of our origins and more recent history is kept up to date on Wikipedia. The idea of an online Encyclopedia for all organisms has been around for several decades, but the most celebrated articulation of this vision was in the TED talk below, by E.O. Wilson, in 2007.
Four years later, when EOL v2 was launched in 2011, the dream was essentially the same, the list of supporting partners had grown, and the strategy and high priority goals were more specific.
Principles, Audience and Scope
The model under which we operate is essentially one of aggregation and curation, guided by the principles of open access, quality control, connectivity among people and data, constant innovation and collaboration. Our scope still includes taxon level content for all life on Earth, but we have content priorities now, focused on taxa which we expect to attract the most attention. We serve several distinct audiences in different ways, from aggregating literature for use by taxonomists, to aggregating brief text and media for creation of educational products like fieldguides.
EOL staff hail from six working groups, plus the Secretariat, our leadership and administrative center. The working groups are
- the Biodiversity Informatics Working Group, responsible for the underlying technology of EOL
- the Biodiversity Synthesis Working Group, responsible for sponsored workshops and meetings.
- the Learning and Education Working Group, responsible for EOL related products for formal and informal education
- the Library of Alexandria Working Group, which focuses on EOL internationalization and localization
- the Scanning and Digitization Working Group, which supports the Biodiversity Heritage Library
- the Species Pages Working Group, which recruits and supports the curation and content partner community, including the Rubenstein Fellows