Newly Designed Open Scriptures Website with Blog

I haven’t formally announced this here yet, but there is a newly designed Open Scriptures website with blog. Future posts regarding Open Scriptures will be posted there. There are two new posts, the first regarding the recently-unveiled exciting Tagged Tanakh project, and the second about redeeming the ill-fated Re:Greek Open Source Initiative with a call for participation. Check them out and subscribe to the feed.

Please also follow Open Scriptures on Twitter.

Join in on the discussion on the Google Group.

“Old” Mainly Linguistics Stuff from College Days

This morning I got inspired to go over some relatively old stuff that I worked on in college. There are several linguistics projects that I think are pretty interesting (the first three especially):

And then I found an old chart I made of my racial makup.

And then there is a little web app for SPU’s Nickerson Signal which attempts to model a traffic signal so that upcoming crossing times can be predicted. (Didn’t end up accurately modeling reality.)

And finally there is the Semantic Linking tool (mentioned in my last post) which is a prototype for an upcoming tool which enables contributors to link the semantic units between manuscripts and translations.

Open Scriptures at BibleTech

(This post has been cross-posted on the Open Scriptures blog.)

For the past several years, I’ve been dreaming about an open source community-driven Web application for Scripture. In the past few months, things have really been kicking into high gear. At BibleTech:2009 I’m presenting the project in the talk Open Scriptures: Picking Up the Mantle of the Re:Greek – Open Source Initiative:

Open Scriptures seeks to be a comprehensive open-source Web repository for integrated scriptural data and a general application framework for building internationalized social applications of scripture. An abundance of scriptural resources are now available online—manuscripts, translations, and annotations are all being made available by students and scholars alike at an ever-increasing rate. These diverse scriptural resources, however, are isolated from each other and fragmented across the Internet. Thus mashing up the available data into new scriptural applications is not currently possible for the community at large because the resources’ interrelationships are not systematically documented. Open Scriptures aims to establish a scriptural database for interlinked textual resources such as merged manuscripts, the differences among them, and the links between their semantic units and the semantic units of their translations. With such a foundation in place, derived scriptural data like cross-references may be stored in a translation-neutral and internationalized manner so as to be accessible to the community no matter what language they speak or version they prefer.

Think of it as a Wikipedia for scriptural data. Just as Wikipedia has become the go-to place to find open encyclopedia information, Open Scriptures seeks to be the go-to place for open scriptural data. (Non-free data could also be stored, but it would be restricted to non-commercial personal use, as Wikipedia does with fair use or by obtaining special permission.)

Interested? The project needs you! I’d love for a core group of scholars and developers to come together with the shared vision of open access to scriptural data employing open standards and best practices of the Web.

It’d be better without Flash.

I was hiking with my dad and father-in-law in the Columbia Gorge a few weekends ago. At one point along the trail my dad took out his camera to take a picture; my father-in-law, who is a photographer, mentioned to my dad, “It’d be better without flash.” I was struck by how he profoundly and unknowingly affirmed my convictions about work in my field. It would be better without Flash. Why? Flash can do some amazingly cool things, but as a firm believer in the Open Web, the nature of Flash is quite troublesome: it is a proprietary technology and uses a binary format not consisting of Web technologies (as I recently blogged about at work).

In spite of the closed nature of Flash, many things are currently impossible without Flash, of course. However, now with stepped up efforts by browser developers (including Gears) and the development of the HTML5 specification, the things which are impossible without Flash are dwindling. Browser vendors are rapidly implementing cutting-edge technologies such as SVG, CSS transitions and animation, HTML5’s audio, video, and canvas elements, and custom fonts with @font-face; at the same time browser developers are competing for the fastest performance with blazing new JavaScript engines such as Mozilla’s TraceMonkey, WebKit’s SquirrelFish Extreme, and Google’s V8. The JavaScript language itself is being furthered now by a new harmonious momentum on ECMAScript 3.1, some features of which the IE team has been quick to include in the upcoming IE8.

In short, the technological foundation of the Open Web has been quickly growing to provide the compelling features which Flash now makes available. Nevertheless, while the things which have depended on Flash are dwindling, it is still currently a lot harder to do these things without Flash because Adobe’s IDE makes designing and developing Flash apps relatively easy for people not intimately familiar with the technical details. What the Open Web needs, therefore, is an IDE which can provide the same level of abstraction as Adobe Flash. We need an IDE which is able to intuitively generate and manipulate the technologies of the Open Web. Mozilla’s new effort on Open Web development tools, led by Dion and Ben of Ajaxian, seems like a great start. In fact, I think it would be great if the Firebug Working Group joined this new effort, and if the Firebug extension itself would be the development tool which would be the focus of the new developer tool set.

For some inspiration, check out the Antisocial demo and its accompanying demotool.