The Encyclopedia of Life, intended to become an online catalog of all species on Earth, began its alpha test of 30,000 pages yesterday. There are placeholders for 1 million species. (FYI, there are estimated to be 1.8 million known species on Earth, and of course more that have yet to be identified.)
This project is notable not just on its face as a remarkable collection of information, contributed by top scientists. It is also remarkable because it opens vast new amounts of information to everyone in an easily accessed way. It also shows the power of collaboration. This is not exactly citizen science, since the contributions will come from experts. However, it will take a large community of experts to make the Encyclopedia a reality. As the site grows, it should give readers a view of the inner workings of science, since there will certainly be disagreements about what species goes where, what the implications of certain connections are, etc. E.O. Wilson, the eminent Harvard biologist who inspired the site and has led its development, observes, "This great effort promises to lay out new directions for research in every branch of biology."
By making this valuable information accessible to everyone, the EOL project should inspire many years of learning opportunities at all levels.
Link to Encyclopedia of Life
Link to Tree of Life (A related site that is also great)