Bob Geldof is finally seeing a 20-year dream come to fruition with his most ambitious project to date. The Live Aid founder has launched a multimedia project to produce an online record of humanity called The Dictionary Of Man. "This will be a giant mapping of ourselves," he explains. "I suppose in some ways we're also building the world's family photo album."
The website aims to record the history of every society on the planet and will ultimately allow users around the world to track their national, family and tribal dispersal over the centuries.
It will be accompanied by a landmark, long-term BBC series entitled The Human Planet. The eight programmes are being described as an "epic record of how different peoples adapt to different surroundings". Together with an accompanying set of books which 55-year-old Bob describes as a sort of "Encyclopedia Humanica", the entire project is being called the "biggest sociological and anthropological project in the history of the world".
It's an idea the former Boomtown Rats frontman says has been "rattling around" in his head since a trip to Northern Niger some 20 years ago. While there the regional governor revealed how 300 different languages disappeared forever in just two years during the Ethiopian famine. "Even though I had never heard those voices or those languages I felt a sense of loss, I already missed them," says Bob. "I thought, why don't we compile a record of every single culture that exists?"