by Kristin Bingham on Fri, November 16, 2007
In 2005, the idea of creating a global science gateway for the web was conceived at OSTI. It would make the best collections of scientific information from nations around the world act as if they were a single enormous collection. It would be searchable via a single query, and it would be available at no cost to anyone anywhere with web access.
In the beginning we called the gateway Science.World. This pithy title properly conveyed that the gateway would be about science and would be truly international in scale, and the "dot" indicated that it would be on the web. From the first, however, we knew the name Science.World could only be a placeholder. In reality, "dot" World is not a legitimate domain, so eventually the gateway would have to be renamed.
This led to a contest throughout OSTI to find a URL that was brief but descriptive, and available, all at the same time. Since I had only been working for OSTI for less then a year, I didn't feel that I should give my input on the options that were being brought up. Thinking of a name that fits such an amazing website was very hard to do.
Seeing the choices being narrowed down, however, I finally spoke up about a URL I found that I thought best described what was being created, www.WorldWideScience.org. Being that it was short, to the point, and available was why I chose it as my favorite. Still a bit nervous, I submitted the name for consideration by OSTI senior staff. Later, my boss told me that he knew I had "hit a homerun" as soon as he heard "WorldWideScience.org". The majority of OSTI senior staff had the same reaction. I won the contest!
WorldWideScience.org is now a live site that has performed millions of information transactions. Each time someone types in a query and clicks the search button, the query is immediately sent to information collections in each of the world's six inhabited continents. The hits from each collection are returned to the OSTI server where they are ranked in relevance order and presented to the user. All this gets done in seconds. Particularly amazing, much of the information retrieved is non-Googleable. As far as we know, there is nothing else like WorldWideScience.org on the web. Decades from now, my grandchildren will be using WorldWideScience.org, and I will tell them how I named it.
Please feel free to do searches yourself, and let us know what you think.