Launch date for the Oregon Encyclopedia Project is February 14 at Oregon Historical Society. It’s free, probably snacks and speeches are involved.

The ambition is to list and describe all things Oregon. Currently the Encyclopedia contains eleven entries, from Book Publishing to Vortex I (sorry – no interesting pictures yet). A massive undertaking about to begin. Yet someone has not done the math.

I know, historians are behind the times. But why? Why? Clearly the petitioners for this project have been ducking the question. There are smart people associated with this project, including Carl Abbott and David Milholland. But what they need on the advisory board is someone with Web 2.0 tattooed on their forearm.

The race to create encyclopedias is, for the time being, over. The race has been run, and won. Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia has an overwhelming lead in creating a free, open content, worldwide, multi-language, gigantic by any scale, online encyclopedia. Last I looked, his staff was three and Jimmy was moving to half-time. This under half the staff of the Oregon Encyclopedia Project.

Instead of pursuing a containment strategy for their information, the OHS should get their unique materials, such as their extensive photo and film collection, and their maps and rare books, online in a similar free and accessible environment. Instead of copyrighting their content (presumably created with public dollars) they should release it to the Creative Commons.