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D-Lib Magazine
July/August 2007

Volume 13 Number 7/8

ISSN 1082-9873

The Encyclopedia of Earth

Contributed by
Ida Kubiszewski
University of Vermont

Cutler J. Cleveland
Boston University

Graphic of the encyclopedia of earth logo

The Encyclopedia of Earth logo.
Used with permission.

The Encyclopedia of Earth (EoE) seeks to become the world's largest and most authoritative electronic source of information about the environments of Earth and their interactions with society. It is a free, fully searchable collection of articles written by scholars, professionals, educators, and experts who collaborate and review each other's work with oversight from an International Advisory Board. The articles are written in non-technical language and are available for free, with no commercial advertising to students, educators, scholars, professionals, decision makers, as well as to the general public.

The scope of the Encyclopedia of Earth is the environment of the Earth broadly defined, with particular emphasis on the interaction between society and the natural spheres of the Earth. It will be built on the integrated knowledge from economists to philosophers to span all aspects of the environment.

The Encyclopedia is being built bottom-up through the use of a wiki-software that allows users to freely create and edit content. New collaborations, ideas, and entries dynamically evolve in this environment. In this way, the Encyclopedia is a constantly evolving, self-organizing, expert-reviewed, and up-to-date source of environmental information.

graphic of earth

Courtesy of Encyclopedia of Earth. Used with permission.

The motivation behind the Encyclopedia of Earth is simple. Go to Google™ and type in climate change, pesticides, nuclear power, sustainable development, or any other important environmental issue. Doing so returns millions of results, some fraction of which are authoritative. The remainder is of poor or unknown quality.

This illustrates a stark reality of the Web. There are many resources for environmental content, but there is no central repository of authoritative information that meets the needs of diverse user communities. The Encyclopedia of Earth aims to fill that niche by providing content that is both free and reliable.

Still in its infancy, the EoE already is an integral part of the emerging effort to increase free and open access to trusted information on the Web. It is a trusted content source for authoritative indexes such as the Online Access to Research in the Environment Initiative, the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative, the Open Education Resources Commons, Scirus, DLESE, WiserEarth, among others.

Dust Jacket from early edition of Walden: Life in the Woods

Book cover: Walden: Life in the Woods. Courtesy of Encyclopedia of Earth. Used with permission.

Our initial Content Partners include the American Institute of Physics, the University of California Museum of Paleontology, TeacherServe®, the U.S. Geological Survey, the International Arctic Science Committee, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, and the United Nations Environment Programme, to name just a few. The full partner list here can be found at <>.

We have a diversity of article types including standard subject articles, biographies, place-based entries, country profiles, and environmental classics.

We recently launched our E-Book series, full-text, fully searchable books with internal hyperlinks to EoE articles. The eBooks include new releases by distinguished scholars as well as classics such as Walden and On the Origin of Species.

Because history can be an important guide to the future, we have added an Environmental Classics section that includes such historical works as Energy from Fossil Fuels by M. King Hubbert and Undersea by Rachel Carson.

Our services and features will soon be expanded. The EoE will soon be available in different languages giving a wider range of users access, users will be able to search it geographically or by a well-defined, expert created taxonomy, and teachers will be able to use the EoE to create unique curriculum for their courses.

The home page for the Encyclopedia of Earth is located at <>.

Copyright© 2007 Ida Kubiszewski and Cutler J. Cleveland

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