[Taxacom] encylopedia of life

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Fri May 11 08:19:06 CDT 2007

Would it not be a very timely approach for EOL to lay open its budget, and
may be even seeking the input of the community they intend to serve and
involve (see eg http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.04/wired40_ceo.html
and related articles, so the guestimates could end, and most likely the EOL
board get's a feeling of what the data provider and user see as their

These are the people who provide the content. And since writing a page for
EOL - with the current career assessment in place - will not provide credits
nor adequate financial support, this might be an additional incentive to
redirect some of the work towards this initiative.


-----Original Message-----
From: Julian H [mailto:humphries at mail.utexas.edu] 
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 3:46 PM
To: Donat Agosti; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life

I read a number of different stories on this yesterday and saw widely 
varying figures on funding:

$12.5 million USD (oneworld.net and the eol.org press release)
$50 million pounds (BBC news)

and now $50 million USD.

Does anybody know for sure what their actual funding is?  Is all this 
money for informatics infrastructure, scanning, etc? Or will this 
trickle down and scientists will be paid to write accounts?  Just curious.

At 08:31 AM 5/10/2007, Donat Agosti wrote:
>Yesterday was the launch of the Encyclopedia of Life
>(http://eol.org/home.html) initiative here in DC, which clearly will affect
>taxonomy and provide much better access to our well hidden knowledge about
>our species. The project as such is supported by USD50M for the next five
>years, with a likely extension for another 5 years. It is great, that the
>money could be raised from MacArthur Foundation (with the lion0s share),
>Sloan Foundation and support from the five core institutions, Harvard, The
>Field Museum, Smithsonian, Marin Biological Lab and Missouri Botanical
>Garden. The idea is to have within these 10 years for each of the 1.8M
>species its specific page.
>In an interesting way, the participants at the official launch represent -
>at least for me - the main challenge of this the project: Getting content.
>could hardly figure out any active scientist in the crowd. These are the
>people who actually are building up content, like fishbase or antbase.
>Populating the database is so far generally a truly bottom up movement,
>by individuals and with little support from the respective institutions.
> >From a different angle, and also in a different time with much more
>tools at hand, the commitment from the core institutions could signal a
>longlasting shift in this policy, that they became aware, that building up
>species databases, their underlying catalogues, etc. are a quintessential
>element in modern research environment, and need be supported similarily to
>maintaining libraries, GenBank, etc.
>This in turn reflects a new development, such as the OECD declaration
>(http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/9/61/38500813.pdf) to provide open access to
>publicly funded research data. This is again an initiative at top level
>What is needed now is that we define the needs for our work. We need to
>to the responsibles in these initiatives so that their decisions really
>reflect what we need, reflect the way we operate, so part of the outcome
>EOL or OECD initiatives help us to work more efficiently, as much as it
>provides a much higher profile for our work. We need to assure, that the
>initiatives not only reflects the idea of the current core US institutions,
>but the needs of our colleagues in Europe or the developing world. We also
>need to assure, that initiatives such as GBIF, IABIN, are not being
>outcompeted but rather form together a superstructure. These initiatives
>global, and thus affect all of us.
>For example, a really important part of the project will be the
>Heritage Library (http://www.bhl.si.edu/). Clearly, not all the works can
>digitized at once, so selection of bodies of literature should happen, to
>support ongoing research projects and show the benefit of it. Why not
>propose to scan all the journals with content on Madagascar, reef fishes or
>other topics, where there is a strong research and conservation community
>Don't sit around, read, be pro-active and voice your concerns and wishes,
>use your blogs.. It is clear, that even the 100M will not suffice to
>all of our dreams, but it is clearly a jumping board into a new age.
>Donat Agosti
>Taxacom mailing list
>Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

Julian Humphries
Geological Sciences
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712

More information about the Taxacom mailing list