Digital Universe Seeks to Become Free 'PBS of the Web'

New Service to Provide Authoritative, Advertising-Free Universe of Content

Mirroring the Natural World

Jan 17, 2006, 00:00 ET from ManyOne Networks

    SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif., Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- ManyOne Networks
 ( ) today released the pilot version of the Digital
 Universe ( ). Over the next several years, the
 Digital Universe will transform the experience of Web portals from
 advertising-ridden pages of text and pictures into an advertising-free,
 real-time multimedia universe of authoritative information. It is to be
 administered by a non-profit foundation in alliance with thousands of
 institutions and experts around the world.
     Experts will guide the selection and creation of subject-specific
 "portals" -- Web sites with new features such as 3D navigation, multimedia
 education resources, IPTV and audio. Portals will be interconnected into a
 visual navigation system, which will over time tie together thousands of
 ad-free portals and millions of the Web's best links. Portals will be
 organized according to a scientifically-designed, visual representation of the
 society we live in, the Earth and the Universe. The result will be a simple,
 intuitive Web navigation interface that takes users far beyond the text-based
 directories of the Web today.
     "The Digital Universe represents a watershed transformation of the Web
 experience," said Dr. Robert Corell, Chairman of the Digital Universe
 Foundation, Senior Fellow of the American Meteorological Association and
 Chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. "Imagine flying over an
 accurate, photorealistic virtual Earth to explore the contours of the Grand
 Canyon, swim with the fish of the Great Barrier Reef and soar through the
 canopy with the birds of the Amazon Rainforest. Imagine traveling through the
 human body to learn how your heart works, or to the eye to find out how we
 see, with the Web's best links available at each stop in your voyage. The
 Digital Universe -- from stars to Earth to humans and everything in
 between -- will be built and edited by some of the most trusted experts and
 organizations in the world, with content contributions from the public. The
 result will be an information resource unlike any created before."
     The Digital Universe will be more than a new kind of user experience and
 source of trustworthy content. It will be a public service that provides all
 kinds of organizations with a low-risk way to support their programs.
 Organizations can offer ad-free Internet services to their audiences, complete
 with rich-media content, dialup and DSL Internet access, secure and private
 e-mail and other forthcoming news, educational and entertainment information
 services, all provided in turnkey fashion and operated by ManyOne Networks.
 Subscriber revenues are shared equally between ManyOne and partnering
     The Digital Universe is being built by a growing alliance of major
 institutions and experts, and will also enable contributions from the public
 (see separate release, "Renowned Experts and Institutions Join Forces With
 Silicon Valley Leaders to Launch PBS of the Web").
     To access Digital Universe, users must presently download the ManyOne
 browser, although the Digital Universe will soon be accessible through all
 major browsers.
     A New User Interface to Explore the Web
     The Digital Universe will offer a new way to explore, communicate, watch
 and read on the Web. It introduces a new concept in user interface design that
 distinguishes "portals" from "activities" much as nouns are distinguished from
 verbs. When users travel to a portal (a noun), they can then engage a specific
 activity (a verb). For example, if a user travels to the Oceans Portal (noun),
 they can then "Explore" (verb) general and little known facts by visiting
 educational websites about the Earth's oceans, "Communicate" directly with
 others in the worldwide community who share their interests and passions,
 eventually even "Watch" Internet-delivered television programs and "Read" the
 best books about oceans. These same activities are automatically shared by all
 portals -- existing and future -- in the Digital Universe, making the Web much
 easier to use and more powerful at the same time.
     "The Digital Universe will place a real-time window on our planet and all
 its societies into the hands of every citizen; a window revealing commercial-
 free information about our changing climate, conflicts, social challenges and
 visions of the future, created by leading experts, universities, research
 organizations and appropriate government agencies," said General Wesley Clark,
 who serves as an advisor to ManyOne. "The technology is vibrant and engaging.
 It really does what many thought Netscape would do -- it creates relevant
 linkages to provide real Internet exploration for knowledge."
     Roadmap for Digital Universe
     The pilot release of the Digital Universe is merely the kickoff of a
 multiyear project. The pilot release is about letting people literally "pilot"
 and get a feel for the way the Digital Universe portals will be discovered and
 used. It reveals the UniNav visual navigation system to explore existing and
 upcoming portals, and it previews the content and activities that will emerge
 month by month for years to come. One such content resource will be the
 Digital Universe Encyclopedia, being led by Dr. Larry Sanger, co-founder of
 Wikipedia. A distributed editorial system is built into the ManyOne platform
 enabling expert and public contributions to portals simultaneously, while
 ensuring the kind of workflow needed to maintain the highest possible
 standards of content.
     "This project has the potential to aggregate enormous intellectual power
 and unleash it for the good of mankind," said Dr. Sanger. "This will make not
 only the finest expert-led, collaborative encyclopedia possible, but much
 else, such 3D models of the world's great heritage sites, a directory of the
 most authoritative Web sites on every topic, and reliable editions of the
 classics. You will also be able to blog as part of a giant knowledge-oriented
 community, and chat in a safe, responsible, friendly environment. This vision
 will take time to realize, but it is so compelling that it must happen. The
 Digital Universe and ManyOne are structured to make it happen in a feasible
 and responsible way. That's why I felt compelled to join this team."
     About Digital Universe
     The Digital Universe is a network of advertising-free portals having many
 different kinds of information resources and services, ultimately on all
 subjects. It pioneers new 3D presentation capabilities, and organizes the
 portals into an easy-to-navigate visual classification system that immediately
 shows the relationships among topics, thereby encouraging exploration. Filling
 the Digital Universe with content will be the work of a worldwide network of
 stewards -- researchers, scholars and educators with expertise and a desire to
 disseminate knowledge -- with content contributions from the public.
 Constructing the Digital Universe is a years-long, open-ended project that
 will evolve over decades into what will ultimately become the "PBS of the
 Web." The project was inspired by the "Encyclopedia Galactica" envisioned by
 Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan.
     The stewardship program and other Digital Universe activities are the
 responsibility of the non-profit Digital Universe Foundation. For more
 information, visit
     About ManyOne Networks
     ManyOne is a vehicle for people and organizations to collaborate in the
 creation of a new, socially responsible information medium. ManyOne and its
 partners are pioneering new ways for people to learn about our world and
 universe, communicate, work and trade with each other and experience each
 others' talents. ManyOne's vision is to fulfill the original potential of the
 Internet as an open, democratic medium that inspires creativity,
 communication, collaboration and education. The organization is working with a
 growing alliance of partners worldwide to evolve a dazzling new kind of Web
     ManyOne embodies a new standard of social responsibility in governance,
 objectives and conduct for for-profit companies, and will become wholly owned
 by the ManyOne Foundation in 2006. For more information about ManyOne
 Networks, visit
     NOTE:  ManyOne, Digital Universe and Digital Universe Foundation are
 trademarks of ManyOne. All other registered or unregistered trademarks are the
 sole property of their respective owners.
     Press Contact:
     Gary Byrd
     FortyThree, Inc.

SOURCE ManyOne Networks