Internet encyclopedia project

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The idea to build a free encyclopedia using the Internet can be traced at least to the 1993 Interpedia proposal; it was planned as an encyclopedia on the Internet to which everyone could contribute materials. The project never left the planning stage and it was overtaken by the explosion of the World Wide Web, the emergence of high-quality search engines, and the conversion of existing material.


[edit] Digitization of old content

A key branch of this activity is the digitization of old printed encyclopedias. In January 1995, Project Gutenberg started to publish the ASCII text of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition (1911), but disagreement about the methods halted the work after the first volume. For trademark reasons this has been published as the Gutenberg Encyclopedia. In 2002, ASCII text of all 28 volumes was published on by another source; a copyright claim was added to the materials, but it probably has no legal validity. Project Gutenberg has restarted work on digitising and proofreading this encyclopedia; as of June 2005 it had not yet been published. Meanwhile, in the face of competition from rivals such as Encarta, the latest Britannica was digitized by its publishers, and sold first as a CD-ROM and later as an online service. Other digitization projects have made progress on other titles. One example is Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897) digitized by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Probably the most important and successful digitization of an encyclopedia was the Bartleby Project's online adaptation of the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2000, which was put online at in early 2000 and is updated periodically.

[edit] Creation of new content

Another related branch of activity is the creation of new, free contents on a volunteer basis. In 1991, the participants of the Usenet newsgroup [1] started a project to produce a real version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a fictional encyclopedia used in the works of Douglas Adams. It became known as Project Galactic Guide. Although it originally aimed to contain only real, factual articles, policy was changed to allow and encourage semi-real and unreal articles as well. Project Galactic Guide contains over 1700 articles, but no new articles have been added since 2000; this is probably partly due to the founding of h2g2, a more official project along similar lines.

[edit] History and Philosophy of encyclopedism

As a part of the German Enlightenment, philosopher G.W.v.Leibniz envisaged an encyclopedia that might contain the whole of human knowledge. He associated this with his other projects of a Characteristica universalis and Calculus ratiocinator. That is, the need for a universal language by which any person could make a contribution to a truly universal encyclopedia. Recently philosophers like Pombo have made a link between Leibniz's ideas and the internet encyclopedia project. This view seems to reveal a remarkable continuity in the history and implementation of ideas over the last 400 years.

[edit] Encyclopedias that are no longer online

  • Interpedia
  • Nupedia, a slow-moving project to produce a free peer reviewed encyclopedia. Nupedia shut down on September 26, 2003, and much of its content has since been assimilated by Wikipedia.
  • GNUpedia, an initiative which did not come to fruition but had some interesting philosophy.

[edit] Currently online encyclopedias

Several online encyclopedias focus on mathematics:

  • MathWorld, a proprietary system hosted at Wolfram Research.
  • PlanetMath is a free Wiki-style mathematical encyclopedia which was originally built to replace MathWorld, a proprietary system hosted at Wolfram Research which was down for some time due to legal difficulties. Since MathWorld has returned, PlanetMath has still thrived.
  • The QED Project is building a "distributed, computerized repository that rigorously represents all important, established mathematical knowledge."

[edit] See also

[edit] Online References

[edit] External links

es:Enciclopedia en línea fr:Encyclopédie en ligne pl:Projekt internetowej encyklopedii

Internet encyclopedia project

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