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The digital universe

From editor in chief John S. Monroe:

In today's Washington Post, .com columnist Leslie Walker details one of the latest attempts to improve the Web, the Digital Universe.

This Internet directory service, she writes, is an effort "to provide information vetted by experts on all major topics of human knowledge in a new format allowing people to browse it in a more visual way." Most people are probably interested in the visual navigation system, which uses a graphic-rich interface to make browsing more intuitive. Perhaps more noteworthy, though, is the idea of creating an Internet resource that has been "vetted by experts."

Like Wikipedia, the Digital Universe will draw on contributions from the general public. But those contributions, according to the Web site, will be "stewarded by experts," ensuring that the information is reliable. The information also will be organized in portals, which group information by topic areas.

Walker questions whether this project can survive, since its founders do not plan to sell advertising or sponsorships, relying instead on subscription services. She may be right: People who are used to getting information for free online may balk at coughing up a monthly fee. But perhaps not. People with special interests in certain areas very well may be willing to pay a price for a reliable, navigable universe of information. The Digital Universe may never overtake Google and other search engines, but it could carve out a very popular niche. -- JSM

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jan 19, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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