The Digital Universe Project is a growing, international consortium of non-profit organizations, scholars and experts who seek to make available on the Internet the best educational, scientific and cultural information.
The Digital Universe is:
- Organizing expert-reviewed information into a web of related Internet portals (websites) and subportals.
- Providing simple but powerful tools for scholars and educators to author and publish original, multi-media content online.
- Nurturing online communities around Digital Universe topics that will engage the public for educational and social networking purposes. The content creation and website building tools mentioned above will be made available free to the public to support communities of interest and action in the “neighborhood” of Digital Universe portals. As an example, amateur astronomers and astronomy clubs can homestead around the expert-created Cosmos Portal.
The Digital Universe Foundation and its partnering organizations are catalyzing a world-wide effort to organize the most reliable information on the Internet into a Digital Universe that will be a public-service oriented subset of the Web — a PBS of the Web, or, perhaps eventually, a powerful information resource akin to the Encyclopedia Galactica envisioned by Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov.
Such an ambitious, multi-decadal project is possible because:
- The Digital Universe will serve as a nucleus for the world’s scholars, experts and educators, providing an online home, powerful tools and an audience for their efforts.
- The Digital Universe will be non-profit, non-commercial and open-source, thereby attracting volunteer efforts to create new presentation tools, topic collections, and communities.
- An innovative partnership with the Trunity network – the service provider of the Web platform – allows the Digital Universe to share in the revenues from subscribers to private website building services. This is an innovative way to let private web services support a free, no-advertising public information source in perpetuity.
The flagship portal of the Digital Universe is the Earth Portal. In less than one year from its April 2007 launch, the Earth Portal exceeded 300,000 unique visitors per month, maintaining a growth rate of 10 percent per month with relatively little marketing. An impressive alliance of leading figures in environmental science, including more than 900 contributors in 60-plus countries and more than 40 institutional partners, have joined the Earth Portal project to date. The Cosmos Portal was launched in 2008. Also underway is the Oceans Portal and the Human Rights Portal.
The Digital Universe Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, was chartered in 2004 to develop the Digital Universe in collaboration with universities, scholars, foundations and non-profit organizations around the world. To date, seed funding has been provided by the Hemingway Foundation, ManyOne Networks, the National Science Foundation, and the Project’s associated University and non-profit partners.