Biodiversity information is not presently managed in a manner that enables or encourages broad, efficient, or novel uses. New technologies that permit integration of biodiversity information stored at institutions worldwide into a single biodiversity information facility, however, have the potential to change this situation. Information integrated from diverse institutions and available in quantity greatly empowers a diversity of novel products that amply demonstrate the importance of the information resource. We discuss the promise and the opportunity, as well as the impediments to assembling a global distributed biodiversity information network—effectively a ‘world museum’, built from the world’s biodiversity and available to all freely and openly.
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