Main Points

History is Now

Welcome to our Reader's Guide. As much as possible, we've designed the website to be self-explanatory. However, we've taken the opportunity to use the Reader's Guide to give you more extensive information about Earth Chronicle. We intend to provide the best resources for online learning available on the internet, so if you have any thoughts on how to make the site a better education portal we'd love to hear it. Better, if you'd like to tackle a project, we'll provide all the support and encouragement that we can. So to learn more, as well as some handy tips for using the website, read on!

What is Earth Chronicle?

We're an Online Library

Looking for the answer to a question? We're a library of online articles and media resources (images, audio, video, etc.) that you can access from anywhere on Earth 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We are always open and we hope that you can find what you are looking for. If not, don't hesitate to ask us! If you leave your email address we'll try to contact you within a day or two with the best quick answer that we can muster on short notice.

Everything on our Website is Researched

I love Wikipedia. I will always love Wikipedia. I can't imagine a future without Wikipedia. They are a fantastic idea: a seamless integration of the right internet technologies that have met the right philosophical goals. Nothing will ever grow faster than Wikipedia. Nothing will ever respond as quickly and as flexibly as Wikipedia. For doing what they want to do, they are the perfect website. But Earth Chronicle is not Wikipedia. That's not bad, just different. We intend to be the perfect site for doing what we do. We've integrated the right technologies and philosophies for doing what we do. And one of our important principles is to demonstrate credibility.

This is a fundamental philosophical difference between Earth Chronicle and Wikipedia. I admire how well they're adapted for growth and speed. But I would never be comfortable citing their information in a paper, in a report, or making a bet based on something I read there. Information flows across the internet so fast that you can't tell where most information has come from let alone if it's credible. That's why the internet has become a byword for bad information. You never know who wrote anything and what their motivations were. Earth Chronicle is designed to be a haven for correct information, a place where you can trust what you read. Because we make credibility an important cornerstone of what we do, you can't just post something here. You have to convince us that you're correct before we will post what you have to say.

We also support our authors. No one can do it alone, that's one of the brilliant ideas in the wiki model; people working together. However, in a wiki everyone is completely disconnected. We prefer to have research teams (authors, editors, proofreaders, and researchers) actually working together and in communication with each other. Because great things happen when people collaborate and bounce ideas off one another. So we actively recruit proofreaders, editors, and researchers to make our articles the best they can be. Anyone is welcome to provide feedback or improve any of our articles; that's the big reason we provide a contact form at the bottom of every page, so it's easy for you to share a fact that we haven't discussed, give an alternate viewpoint, point out an error, or otherwise join in. However, when someone is writing an article we prefer to put the power of interaction to work because it yields better and more dynamic and more exciting results.

Each of our articles also passes a number of quality checks, for factual accuracy and readability, and all webpages must meet technical specs. We have a Beta website dedicated to improving our quality and expanding our services. These are just some of the ways that we make sure our website shines.

Everything on our website is Public Domain

This is so easy it's short. Everything you see here at our website is public domain. Text, HTML code, images, sounds, and other files of any kind, ideas, categories, terminology, facts, classifications, etc., etc. If it's on our website find it, learn it, use it. There's no charge to use any of it, and you never have to ask anyone's permission. Earth Chronicle is dedicated to the amazing legacy that is our birthright after 10,000 years of civilization. If you had to ask permission, we wouldn't have put it on the internet, the world's most powerful tool for sharing information. This site is That simple.

OK, admittedly, there are a few caveats, but only to common sense...

  • While our information is public domain, we quote from non-PD sources. We cite religiously and recommend that you do as well, so this is perfectly acceptable. However, if you don't intend to cite your sources, then don't include anything we've quoted. Just because we quoted John Grisham with proper citations, doesn't mean he's magically public domain. You can't use him.
  • Numerous brands, copyrights, and / or trademarks may be discussed or mentioned on Earth Chronicle, from Coca - Cola to IBM. That doesn't make them public domain. So, in fact, you can't market your new soft drink as Coca - Cola. Those names are still licensed. This extends to "Earth Chronicle" and the Earth Chronicle logo. Like all other organizations, our name is our stamp and our seal of approval and we have the right to determine how that is used. Now our logo is composed of PD elements so if you're interested in the globe based on the SRTM dataset inside the "C" or the image of the Hodge 301 star cluster we've used as a background, these are all part of the public domain and you can make use of these resources just like we have. You just can't use our name or the logo "a C wrapped around a globe".
  • Many of the underlying file types are generally copyrighted or copylefted. You can still take our files and use them in any way you want. However, you cannot generally use or sell the "technology". So just because you've downloaded a swf or a zip file from our website, doesn't give you the right to reverse engineer the files and start your own business. Adobe and / or Winzip will be very upset; and they have lawyers.

And certainly there are other things you can't do that we'd never even imagine. You can't challenge Microsoft in court for ownership of their patents just because our website is based on .NET technology. And while you can take or even sell the code samples we have on the Beta website, Microsoft still owns C# and T-SQL. Nor can you steal the Dewey decimal system just because we mentioned it in an article; that's exactly why the full classification isn't posted on our site. Classification systems are usually copyrighted – for no particularly good reason, at least in our opinion. Don't like it? Help us create alternative classifications that are in the public domain.

What am I Looking at?

Link Warnings

Anytime you are on a page, you will eventually do one of two things: close your browser or link to another page. Whatever page you are on is clearly a nice safe place, but what about the page you're linking to? If we do anything on a webpage that could cause problems, we note it in parentheses immediately after the link. That way you shouldn't be surprised by what's on the other side when you click on it. For the same reason, we try to ensure that all links are descriptive so you know the topic or function of the page before you link to it. Descriptive links are also important for visitors using text browsers or link lists which are impossible to use functionally without well written link text.

Our most common warning isn't even a set of parentheses; it's changing the link color like this. These are holding links, and they go to holding pages; holding pages are placeholder pages for topics that are not yet built. In some cases this will be a placeholder for a page that's currently under construction, especially on the Beta website. If you're interested to see if a page is under construction place a tilde, ~, in front of the filename, this is how we name pages in progress. As long as you understand that the information is provisional, or the testing is incomplete, we welcome you to check out what we're up to behind the scenes. We use this technique sometimes at Earth Chronicle, but we use it extensively on the Beta website. So if you're at a holding page named http://www.EarthChronicle.com/FAQ.aspx, then insert a tilde so it reads, http://www.EarthChronicle.com/~FAQ.aspx. When the page passes inspection the holding page is deleted and we remove the tilde from the page name which takes it live. Holding pages are important for two reasons; this way that we can build around a page that isn't finished (or possibly even begun) while still being able to link other pages to it. That way when the page is ready and goes live, no one has to do anything; all pages that should link to it were already pointing to the holding page of that name, and are now pointing to the live file.

However, the most important thing about holding pages is that they let us communicate with you. Are you interested in a topic? Disappointed that there's no real information there? Clearly we are too, or we wouldn't have posted the holding page. So we're inviting you to do something about it! Research the topic and write it up. Holding pages let us share with you which topics we're really eager to get posted. And if the page is almost complete, it's still an open invitation to do more research on the topic or to find something else you're interested in. Provide a different point of view on the same topic, write about a related (more specific, more general, different) topic, or rewrite the article for a different audience: kids, adults, beginners, experts.

Or consider translating the page into a different language. We are still working on programming the machinery to provide articles in any language, so currently English is the only language in which articles can be posted. However, Earth Chronicle is fully internationalized, so once the programming is finished we can take all translations live. Add one now! :)

References: Standard, Factual, and Image

One of the key goals of Earth Chronicle is to preserve human knowledge and its rich history. While we prefer well-written articles in plain language, the research requirements for our articles are actually much more stringent than any scholarly journal. Like a scholarly journal we want our authors recognized for their ideas. And while a college professor will be handsomely reimbursed selling hundreds or thousands of copies of a $50-100+ textbook, all of our contributors have provided their articles to you for free; it is therefore not only sensible, but morally right to make sure the authors are properly credited for their work.

Therefore, we ask that whenever practical, you cite the author of the articles or files that you're using. That’s why we’ve done the hard work of keeping everything together. This includes citations for non-PD sources which follow the quotations, so you can copy and paste everything together.

However, there is also a second reason that our research is so intensive. Unlike a scholarly journal, we are interested in the history of ideas and facts. So while a scholarly journal only wants to make sure that someone is recognized for their ideas and discoveries, we want to track the history as well. In scholarly articles, facts are typically not cited at all. If you browse some of our articles you will see why this can be such a tall order sometimes. It is almost impossible for an individual writing a paper to do research that thoroughly. However, Earth Chronicle is not dependent on a single individual. We are not limited by deadlines. Over the course of years, hundreds of people may ultimately collaborate fleshing out an article and creating dozens of other articles to tell the full history of the ideas and facts that it contains. We don’t expect thorough research to happen quickly, or under the guidance of a few people. That’s why we ask you to share any information that you have; it is our team effort that brings this site alive and makes it tick.

This is also why we have several different kinds of references, some of which you may not have seen before.

  1. Standard Reference: This is the type of reference you'll be familiar with if you've ever submitted a paper with a bibliography or a works cited list. You had to credit each idea that you borrowed from someone else’s work. If you wrote a research paper, you’ve had to do this... a lot. A standard references credits someone else for their ideas. We include standard references immediately after the idea, and link to full bibliographic references in our bibliography. Though this disrupts the flow of the text a little, it makes it effortless to copy both idea and reference together so that credit goes where credit is due. It also alerts you to the fact that the material is quoted and may not be public domain. However, if you include the citation, you can safely use the quote in the same way that we are.
  2. Media Reference: This may be familiar to you. Newspapers usually credit a photographer or news organization for the photographs that appear in their pages. There is usually a by-line under most newspaper pictures. We've attempted to replicate this style, as well as link to the full bibliographic reference in our Image Index. This includes all images, photos, headings, backgrounds, thumbnails, Flash, videos, etc. If it’s on our website the filename of the image will appear in our Image Index page with a full citation. We also attempt to include the image policy in writing of the person or organization that created the image so that the Image Credits can unequivocally demonstrate that the image is Public Domain.
  3. Factual Reference: So far as I know, this is entirely our own creation. Since Earth Chronicle traces the history of ideas and facts, we recognize that even facts can change over time. Open any US history book from the 1950s and it will tell you that Columbus discovered America in 1492... which is true is so far as it goes. Except that Viking explorers had beat him to it by several hundred years... and the Asians we now call "Native Americans" migrated to the areas around 14,000BC. And this too will change the next time scholars uncover new evidence transforming our understanding of the history of the Americas. Therefore, we consider it important to trace the history not just of ideas but of Facts. We want to trace how these facts develop and change; politicians in particular are notorious for twisting facts to suit their political needs. How Nazi Germany twisted facts about Jewish history and biology is one of the most horrific examples of this kind of factual manipulation, but all governments and individuals do it for various reasons and with various results. If nothing else, we each have our own point of view that colors what we think about an idea or why it's important.

    That’s why the history of a fact can sometimes be more important, and more interesting than the fact itself, and we want to chronicle these histories as well. To avoid disrupting the flow of text, facts and their histories aren't cited in the text, we simply provide a superscript F like soF that links to a page with more explicit information.