Digital Universe Was a free online information service founded in 2006. [1] The project avocation to create a “network of portals designed to Provide high-quality information and services to the public”. Subject Terms and Conditions; Contributors were both experts (scholars, scholars, educators) and the public. [2]

The project was founded in 2005 by Joe Firmage, CEO of ManyOne , with Bernard Haisch as the president. It was launched in early 2006. Larry Sanger was a director, and helped with the launch of the Encyclopedia of Earth project . Sanger left in late 2006 to launch Citizendium . [3] [4] [5] [6]



In December 2005, when the project was announced, the founders’ goal was to create a worldwide network of researchers, scholars, and educators, to become the PBS of the Web. [1]

While the public will contribute to some articles in the Digital Universe encyclopedia, they will be supervised by “stewards” whose role is to guarantee quality and accuracy of the articles. In addition, parts of the Digital Universe will be editable only by credentialed experts.

Multi-tiered system

The expert wiki , is expected to be written and managed by experts. [7]

The public wiki , will be editable by members of the educated public. However, according to Sanger, only registered users who have provided their real names will be allowed to edit this wiki. [7] According to Sanger, an article rating system will be used for articles in the public wiki. [8]

Some of the 3-D graphical interface features will have the use of a Mozilla -based browser developed by ManyOne Networks , which they say will be made available free of charge.

Some content will be available only to ManyOne subscribers.


Around 2000 content pages existed as of August 2007. The Digital Universe claims the following featured portals: Earth, Energy, The Arctic, Texas Environment, US Government, and Salton Sea . The Salton Sea portal for example Contains the following pages: Hydrology, Biology, Limnology, Ecological Issues, Values, Geography, Alternatives, and Cultural History.

The Earth Portal is working on an Encyclopedia of Earth (EoE), [9] which will focus on the natural environment and its interaction with society. [10] It will limit editing privileges to experts, by attributing all edits to Their authors, by exchange being white Publicly published only after-approval and by using an expert-developed taxonomy for items. [10] [11]

EoE will use two parallel wikis, one “Stewarded”, one “Public”. The Stewarded wiki will be open only to “recognized scientific authorities” after their credentials have been reviewed. [12] The EoE runs MediaWiki wiki software. [13] EoE is for Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 for its license. [11] Over 400 articles had been written by experts by January 2006. [14]

In May 2006 it was reported that the EoE was due to be launched in June 2006. [15] A July 2006 article reported that the launch would be in 2006. [16]

As of May 2007 , the EoE’s International Advisory Board included Robert Costanza , Thomas Homer-Dixon , Rajendra K. Pachauri and Frank Sherwood Rowland . [17]


Principals of the Digital Universe project include Joe Firmage, USWeb founder; Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch , president of the Digital Universe Foundation, and Larry Sanger . On 14 March 2006, the Digital Universe Foundation announced that Lawrence Lessig , Founder and Chairman of the Creative Commons Project, had joined the Digital Universe Advisory Board. [18]

In September 2006, Sanger announced that he had taken a “leave of absence” from Digital Universe in order to set up a fully independent Citizendium Foundation. [19]


In July 2006, the San Jose Mercury News Reported That “Digital Universe, has non-profit based in Scotts Valley , is share of a complicated three-organization structure. ManyOne Networks is the for-profit arm of the operation, backed with angel investors And financial investor funding that is developing the Digital Universe software. Its profits are funneled to the ManyOne Foundation, set up in Canada for tax purposes and to give the project a less US-centric feel. Haisch said, “The Digital Universe Foundation is the only one of its kind in the world.” [16] ” [16] “The concept of the”

As of January 2006, US $ 10.5 million has been raised from the Digital Universe project. [20] ManyOne Networks plans to offer premium services for $ 7.95 a month and to sell Internet access. [20] These revenues will be used in part to support the Digital Universe project. Firmage has stated that access to the basic Digital Universe will always remain free and without advertisements. [21]

The stewardship program and other Digital Universe activities are the responsibility of the non-profit Digital Universe Foundation, headquartered in Scotts Valley, California .


In January 2006, the pilot version of Digital Universe was launched. This contained approximately 50 portals. [21] Some visitors felt this version was confusing and difficult to navigate. [20] [22] Aaron Barlow, an Associate Professor at New York City College of Technology, wrote that “the problem with this, from a horizontal point of view, is that important work that really should be part of the education of the individual Is the “experts” who provide the gatekeeping. “A neterate person should know how to negotiate the web for accurate information. [23]

See also

  • List of online encyclopedias


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Terdiman, Daniel (19 December 2005). “PBS of the Web ‘ “. CNET News . Retrieved 23 June 2010 .
  2. Jump up^ “Digital Universe Launches Experts Recruitment Program”, Digital Universe Foundation press release, May 15, 2006, accessed May 16, 2007
  3. Jump up^ Udell, Jon (9 January 2006). “Wikipedia’s Future” . InfoWorld . Retrieved 23 June 2010 .
  4. Jump up^ Moody, Glyn (13 July 2006). “This time, it’ll be a Wikipedia written by experts” . The Guardian . Retrieved 23 June 2010 .
  5. Jump up^ Blundo, Joe (26 April 2007). “Web encyclopedia will not include ‘giving up ‘ ” . Columbus Dispatch . Retrieved 23 June 2010 .
  6. Jump up^ Olsen, Stefanie (16 October 2006). “Wikipedia co-founder plans ‘expert’ rival” . CNET News . Retrieved 23 June 2010 .
  7. ^ Jump up to:b Larry Sanger , “The Digital Universe in 2006” , Digital Universe Blog, January 20, 2006, accessed May 16, 2007
  8. Jump up^ Larry Sanger,”Correcting Some Misconceptions about the Digital Universe”, Digital Universe Blog, January 19, 2006, accessed May 16, 2007
  9. Jump up^ Larry Sanger (January 1, 2006). “Earth Portal” (PDF) . Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-07-10. Retrieved 2006-09-21 .
  10. ^ Jump up to:b Cutler Cleveland, “More on the Wikipedia Alternative “, CNET , reader posting, January 9, 2006
  11. ^ Jump up to:b Frequently Asked Questions “Earth Portal (dead link as of May 16, 2007; not available via
  12. Jump up^ The Encyclopedia of Earth – A Prospectus, accessed May 16, 2007ArchivedOctober 8, 2007, at theWayback Machine.
  13. Jump up^ Larry Sanger, posting in response to”Digital Universe and Long Odds” by Alex Halà ©, 2 February 2006
  14. Jump up^ Art Jahnke,”World’s experts gather online BU cultivates a corner of the Digital Universe”,Boston University (BU) Today, January 26, 2006
  15. Jump up^ Laura Smith,”Digital Universe gets UK uni stars”,Information World Review News, 9 May 2006
  16. ^ Jump up to:b John Boundreau, “Digital Universe Wants to Assemble Information You Can Trust ‘About Science is icts Website” , July 24, 2006, The Mercury News , accessed July 24, 2006 (accessible via paid archive as Of May 2007)
  17. Jump up^ International Advisory Board, Earth Portal, accessed May 19, 2007
  18. Jump up^ “Prof. Lawrence Lessig Appointment Underscores Digital Universe Commitment to Bring Together Renowned Experts Across Disciplines”, March 14, 2006
  19. Jump up^ Citizendium-l: Citizendium launch plan as of September 26ArchivedJuly 20, 2011, at theWayback Machine., Posting by Larry Sanger, September 27, 2006, to
  20. ^ Jump up to:c Leslie Walker, “A Universe of Good Intentions, A World of Practical Hurdles” , Washington Post , January 19, 2006
  21. ^ Jump up to:b Dan Goodin, “Website aims to build non-profit research storehouse” , Associated Press, March 5, 2006
  22. Jump up^ Mike Langberg,”Firmage’s` Universe ‘needs tweaks “,Mercury News, January 18, 2006
  23. Jump up^ Barlow, Aaron (2008). Blogging America: the new public sphere . Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 95. ISBN  0-275-99872-X .

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