Q: What is the Digital Universe?
A: The Digital Universe is a new, free, online information resource, a Web application that lets users view an editorially defined subset of credible information. Call it a PBS of the Internet. The vision of the Digital Universe is to create a space in which it will be possible to organize the sum total of human knowledge and make it available to everyone. Running on a platform hosted by Trunity Networks, the Digital Universe lets users navigate through a visual taxonomy of nature and society. The taxonomy consists of expert-created portals (e.g. the Earth Portal, the Cosmos Portal, the Human Rights Portal). In any portal you will eventually find every type of information on that topic: websites, essays, encyclopedia articles, books, images, sounds, forums, etc., sorted by type. The Digital Universe is being built by a growing group of scholars, educators and experts of all sorts.
Q: What is the Digital Universe trying to achieve?
A: Our aim is to make the Digital Universe into the most reliable and largest information resource and content development community in history, and in time to combine an exhaustive Internet directory with a library, collaborative encyclopedia, and much more. In episode twelve of Carl Sagan's Cosmos series, the visionary astronomer borrows an idea from the writings of Isaac Asimov and proposes that someday there may exist an Encyclopedia Galactica: a compendium of knowledge based on the cumulative achievements of a galaxy-spanning civilization with thousands of years of history. Amazingly, a quarter century later the tools to initiate that are available in the World Wide Web. A global collaboration aiming to organize and make available, eventually, the sum total of human knowledge is beginning today. The technology is now available to start such an open-ended, generation-spanning project. All that is needed is a plan and a catalyst to set the gears in motion. That is the role and goal of the Digital Universe.
Q: What license are you using? Will the contents be free?
A: We are fully committed to creating a free information resource. The Digital Universe Foundation uses the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license for most content.
Q: What particular projects are you developing?
A: The Digital Universe features two sorts of projects: vertical and horizontal. The "vertical" projects are divided up by subject; the "horizontal" projects are divided up by function or type of information. The vertical projects are portals, such as The Earth Portal, which is managed by the Environmental Information Coalition or the Cosmos Portal. Each portal becomes an exhaustive, logically-organized, expert-stewarded clearinghouse of information about the portal topic. We have recently initiated a Steward program, which engages experts from across all disciplines to begin work on other portals. The horizontal projects under active development are the Encyclopedia of Earth, taxonomy development, news, forums and links to vetted content elsewhere.
Q: Is the Digital Universe ready for contributors?
A: In some content areas, international coalitions of experts have already formed and many individuals and partner organizations from around the globe are supplying articles, news and other information. The Earth Portal which launched in April of 2007 has more than 800 active contributors. The Cosmos and Human Rights portals have editorial boards in place and are accepting contributions. Please contact these portal coalitions if you wish to contribute. If you are interested in contributing to other areas, you may apply to become a Steward.
Q: What is the relationship between the Digital Universe Foundation and Trunity Networks?
A: The Digital Universe Foundation (DUF) works closely with its technology partner, Trunity Networks, Inc. Trunity Networks is developing rich media authoring and presentation tools to convey knowledge in innovative and visually engaging ways. This Internet technology is called the Universal Portal Service (UPS) and it provides the technical basis, the platform, of the Digital Universe.
Q: What is the difference between a user and a subscriber?
A: See Types of Portals, Users and Subscribers. A subscriber to Trunity Networks is never exposed to external advertisement when viewing any portals, nor do ads appear on his/her portal(s) even when viewed by non-subscribers. On the other hand free users of the system will see ads on portals not belonging to subscribers, and ads will appear on his/her portal (which subscribers will not see). It is important to note that that ALL Digital Universe portals – the expert-created portals -- are always advertisement free for everyone, no matter the subscription status of the viewer. An additional subscriber benefit is an email account..
Q: What's this I hear about revenue sharing?
A: Yes. One quarter of all net revenues to Trunity Networks from your subscription or other activities on the network supports Digital Universe portals. Up to an additional quarter of these net revenues will go to the portal network partner that is affiliated with your registration on the Trunity Network.