Science TED Prize

Encyclopedia of Life/TED Prize update: Cynthia Parr at TED2012

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Cynthia Parr takes the stage to update us on a massive TED Prize project: The Encyclopedia of Life. Perhaps a quarter of TED talks feature living organisms. Whether it’s an urgent need for conservation or a creature that can teach us something, it’s obvious that you care deeply about biodiversity. And with your help we’ve made Ed Wilson’s grand vision a reality. To build the Encyclopedia of Life we started with databases from leading museums, libraries, and science projects. We’ve brought in content from Flickr and Wikipedia and invited everyone to add text directly to EOL.

Thanks to global partners we’ve now got information in Spanish and Arabic with more languages to come. because people should be able to learn about the species they care about in their own language. And because scientists describe 15,000 new species every year, we set it up so that if they publish in an open-access journal we automatically make a new page on EOL.

Everything on EOL,  even the software itself, is free to use and to re-use. As of this week, we’ve got information on almost a million species. That’s an incredible number, nearly half the species in the tree of life and it has only been five years. But we are more than just a bunch of web pages.

Our next steps are to get even more eyeballs looking at EOL working with richer, more computable data. You helped us get off the ground, and we’re gaining momentum. The next five years are going to be even more exciting.