Re-development of the Encyclopedia of World Problems
Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, initiated in 1972 by a collaboration between two international non-profits, the Union of International Associations (UIA) and Mankind 2000, is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems humanity is confronted with, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies.
Encyclopedia was by far the most fascinating subject I encountered while working as an editor, researcher and web information architect at the UIA in Brussels (2000-2012). At the turn of the millenium I was given a chance to work on the first dynamic version of the online database (based on now very exotic server called S/Web, running on basis of a DOS relational database called Advanced Revelation), and later in 2003 I rewrote it into a PHP/MySQL application. I also had the pleasure to work on complex network visualizations based on the Encyclopedia data, many of which appeared also in book form (Volume V of UIA's renowned Yearbook of International Organizations).
In the latter years of my UIA career finances for the Encyclopedia were very scarce — it took all possible effort to keep it bug-free and linked with all the other UIA online databases. As a result, the online Encyclopedia was slowly withering away — or so I felt. Therefore, less than a year after leaving the UIA, in the late 2012, I offered the UIA and Mankind 2000 to help revive the project dramatically as an outsider.
While part of the work has been technical — we have ported the data and presentation from a in-house PHP/MySQL application into the open-source CMS framework called Drupal (v7) — the process has also allowed us to make significant strategic changes to the publishing model.
The main points are:
- Whilst the above NGOs remain equal copyright holders of the data, it is becoming possible for partners to re-publish any content on presentation sites under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA)
- Content of the database is being made centrally editable at edit.ewphp.org — to allow content changes on this site to propagate to any and all presentation sites
Please contact us via the EWP contact page if you wish to learn more about the on-going changes, if you aspire to join as a database editor, presentation site developer, or if you wish to know about the project in general and support it in any way.
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