Encyclopedia of Life starts on Rails - seeking open source d

Hello all,

I am a software developer at the Encyclopedia of Life project (http://
www.eol.org), a recently announced effort funded by the MacArthur and
Sloan Foundations to produce a web page for each of the 1.8 million
known species on Earth. This will be a huge effort, and there are
multiple academic institutions all acting together to make it happen.
Our part at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, MA, is the
informatics and technology component. The initial version of the
site, which will aggregate lots of existing content from a diverse set
of sources, will be launching in late February 2008 and will be built
on top of Ruby on Rails (with a MySQL back-end and possibly some
repository management via a project called Fedora Commons). Once it
launches, all of the code will enter the open source domain and the
community will be welcomed in to fix, tinker and improve.

On a separate and related path is the contributory part of the
website, of which the first component is a user observation form. The
idea is for anyone (kids, adults, scientists, etc.) to add
observational data about particular species so we can build up a large
data set which can be used to study climate change, invasive species,
etc., around the world in an unprecedented way. An initial version of
this site has been developed by myself in Ruby on Rails using Google
Maps plugins, geocoding, etc., with full source code now up at the URL
below:

and the actual site running at:

http://ingestionform.eol.org

I also created a google group for this project:

http://groups.google.com/group/eol-ingestion-form

We know there are a lot of holes in the application and lots of room
for improvement (I’ve already started a wish list on the wiki), but
this application will become a very important component of the user
contribution section of the Encyclopedia of Life. The programming
resources here are tight and focused on the initial launch in
February, and we are hoping to involve the programming community in
the same way the biological community is invited to participate in
content contributions. This is my second Ruby on Rails application,
the first one for the group here in Woods Hole, and my first open
source project, so we know there is need for more expertise in all
areas.

So if you are interested in contributing to a wonderful open source
Ruby on Rails project with high visibility, drop on by and have a look
at this first effort. If you are looking for a tech job and are
willing to move to Woods Hole, there are a few open positions too, so
check out the EOL employment page:

http://eol.org/employment.html

Thanks,
Peter

peetucket wrote:

I am a software developer at the Encyclopedia of Life project (http://
www.eol.org), a recently announced effort funded by the MacArthur and
Sloan Foundations to produce a web page for each of the 1.8 million
known species on Earth. This will be a huge effort, and there are
multiple academic institutions all acting together to make it happen.

Why on Earth aren’t they simply writing a system that maintains all
the Wikipedia pages on this topic?


Phlip

On Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:46:05 -0700, Phlip wrote:

I am a software developer at the Encyclopedia of Life project (http://
www.eol.org), a recently announced effort funded by the MacArthur and
Sloan Foundations to produce a web page for each of the 1.8 million
known species on Earth. This will be a huge effort, and there are
multiple academic institutions all acting together to make it happen.

Why on Earth aren’t they simply writing a system that maintains all
the Wikipedia pages on this topic?

Well, for one thing, some of the species don’t know how to use
Wikipedia.


Jay L. |
Boston, MA | My character doesn’t like it when they
Faster: jay at jay dot fm | cry or shout or hit.
http://www.jay.fm | - Kristoffer

Jay L. wrote:

Why on Earth aren’t they simply writing a system that maintains all
the Wikipedia pages on this topic?

Well, for one thing, some of the species don’t know how to use Wikipedia.

Hey!.. But… they… /can/ be trained to use Rails…

Point!


Phlip

On 9/20/07, Jay L. [email protected] wrote:

Why on Earth aren’t they simply writing a system that maintains all
the Wikipedia pages on this topic?

Well, for one thing, some of the species don’t know how to use Wikipedia.

And some that do have been known to, er, “embellish” descriptions
of their characteristics…

I don’t think we need to name names :slight_smile:


Hassan S. ------------------------ [email protected]

That is a good question, but the EOL is quite different from Wikipedia
in many ways. In fact, Wikimedia is represented on the Institutional
Council to advise the EOL. Much of the content for EOL will come from
authoritative sources - pages will not be fully editable like
Wikipedia. If you are interested, you can read more on the site.

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