Wikipedia as an encyclopaedia of life

Page, R.D.M. (2010) Wikipedia as an encyclopaedia of life. Organisms Diversity and Evolution, 10(4), pp. 343-349. (doi:10.1007/s13127-010-0028-9)

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Abstract

In a 2003 essay E. O. Wilson outlined his vision for an “encyclopaedia of life” comprising “an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth”, each page containing “the scientific name of the species, a pictorial or genomic presentation of the primary type specimen on which its name is based, and a summary of its diagnostic traits.” Although biodiversity informatics has generated numerous online resources, including some directly inspired by Wilson’s essay (e.g., iSpecies and EOL), we are still some way from the goal of having available online all relevant information about a species, such as its taxonomy, evolutionary history, genomics, morphology, ecology, and behaviour. While the biodiversity community has been developing a plethora of databases, some with overlapping goals and duplicated content, Wikipedia has been slowly growing to the point where it now has over 100,000 pages on biological taxa. My goal in this essay is to explore the idea that, largely independent of the aims of biodiversity informatics and well-funded international efforts, Wikipedia has emerged as potentially the best platform for fulfilling E. O. Wilson’s vision.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Page, Professor Roderic
Authors: Page, R.D.M.
Subjects:Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4450 Databases
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Organisms Diversity and Evolution
Publisher:Urban und Fischer Verlag
ISSN:1439-6092
ISSN (Online):1618-1077
Published Online:07 July 2010

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