Encyclopedia of Earth

Welcome to the Encyclopedia of Earth, a new electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society. The Encyclopedia is a free, fully searchable collection of articles written by scholars, professionals, educators, and experts who collaborate and review each other’s work. The articles are written in non-technical language and will be useful to students, educators, scholars, professionals, as well as to the general public.

About the EoE

Here’s another of those projects that make all of the Utopian claims about the Internet seem realistic. The Encyclopedia is actually one part of what is called the Earth Portal, which includes the Earth Forum and the Earth News.

Earth Forum includes “commentary from scholars and discussions with the general public,” and Earth News, “stories on environmental issues drawn from many sources.” The real fly in the ointment, as with all efforts to make knowledge accessible, is class. You have to have a computer and an Internet connection, of course. In some sense, too, this is a “professional” response meant to counter the perceived populism of the Web.

It’s still a step in the right direction. You cannot hope to be critically informed about science or anything else unless you are familiar with the process of knowledge production. And that familiarity is to some extent dependent on education. This need not be a formal education process, as Wikipedia illustrates. That’s why the forum and the news sections are as important as the Encyclopedia. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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