– a brief overview of the EcoPort service

For a tutorial on accessing slide shows in EcoPort, please click here.

EcoPort at is a collaborative, open-source system and service that manages knowledge as a global public good under the patronage of Nelson Mandela and Edward O. Wilson.

Individuals and institutions pool information and expertise to create a single, communal database. Collaborators register as users and receive a username and password that gives them control over the EcoPort toolbox of procedures and pooled data. This enables them , dynamically and in real-time, to write information into the database and to create create a global knowledge commons. Several layers of data quality monitoring are in place to provide peer review. All contributed information is publicly associated with the author's name, a logo and a banner declaring the institutional framework applicable to the shared information. An embedded e-mail link in all displayed information provides a direct, dynamic channel of communication between authors and public internet users who might want to suggest improvements and additions to the central database.

The software and content of EcoPort are freely accessible and can be used at no charge within the GNU/CopyLeft framework of intellectual property rights management. Individuals share what they know in exchange for having free access and rights to use the sum of all similarly-shared information for educational and not-for-profit purposes. The EcoPort website has full details. EcoPort's toolbox of procedures enables users to write HyperText and make HyperText Links between data items and information objects in the central database themselves and directly from within Internet browser software running on their own desk-top computers at home. This means that authors can use the entire pool of shared information items to assemble these into knowledge objects or narratives such as slide shows, interactive tables and much more. This empowerment of end-users breaks the dominant dogma of the world wide web that overwhelmingly reserves the right to assemble information for webmasters. This traditional 'top-down' approach does not allow local communities easily and dynamically to add local knowledge, provide feedback to validate the relevance of transferred information and to contribute case studies and other context sensitive narratives that document indigenous knowledge.

Because '...everything is connected to everything else...', the EcoPort database is a global, inter-disciplinary 'encyclopaedia of everything' written, maintained and validated by a global network of experts. EcoPort considers and respects anyone who solves a problem or any person who is the custodian of traditional knowledge and local wisdom as an expert. EcoPort believes that all people could teach something if they are given direct, local control over the knowledge assembly process within an environment of supportive quality monitoring.

Because all components and elements assembled into complex narratives or 'knowledge' chains' are stored in a single, contiguous database, there is never such a thing as a 'broken link' once an EcoPort author has assembled an interacting set of resources drawn from the communal pool. The linkages between elements in a coherent database are always continuous in both directions and because there is no need to hop from website to website to follow a 'train of thought', the interactions between information elements in EcoPort is of uniform high speed.

The overall 'universe' of information and knowledge that comes into existence through the generosity of a global network of volunteer knowledge workers, can be assembled into discrete, thematic sub-sets such as the citrus slide shows on this CD-ROM. While such thematic subsets are static, the resources they use and rely on inside the overall, dynamic EcoPort universe are constantly being improved by the mesh of authors whose work are utilised in any particular thematic set. Thus, the author/collator of the thematic set is constantly and automatically supported by the network of experts who are, individually, maintaining and improving their specific datasets in the overall communal database.

Please consider joining the EcoPort Community. Our motto is 'winning by sharing' and you can find more information on the EcoPort website at, or by writing to the

'He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine;
as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.'

Thomas Jefferson