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Synopsis of Open Scriptures at BibleTech:2009

BibleTech:2009BibleTech:2009 was a success! The conference was a great opportunity to learn about the cutting edge developments at the intersection of Bible and technology, and to meet the people behind them. I’ll summarize some of the connections that relate to Open Scriptures.

I finally got to meet the people behind the Tagged Tanakh project from the Jewish Publication Society; they presented in the talk “How the Ancient Rabbis Invented Web 2.0 Before Its Time.” When I learned about their project earlier this year, I got really excited because the Tagged Tanakh’s vision is almost identical to that of Open Scriptures except for its focus on the Jewish scriptures. JT Waldman is directing the project, and we really connected both personally and professionally. We immediately began collaborating and strategizing on how we can assist each other and work together to realize the common vision. was represented at the conference, and they also want to work together. has had a very open policy with regard to licensing their New English Translation (NET), and they are looking for new ways to make it even more openly accessible. Open Scriptures is one such avenue, in addition to their existing NET Bible study tool. The NET Bible is a solid translation that includes a multitude of scholarly notes which will profoundly benefit resources that are integrated into the scriptural Semantic Web of Linked Data (again, see Tim Berners-Lee’s TED Talk).

Stephen Smith presented on “The Need for a Universal Bible Annotation Format.” Stephen, previously employed by Crossway as the developer of the ESV Online, is now employed at Zondervan and is working to bring the same openness he built into ESV Online to be taken to a larger scale at Bible Gateway, currently the most popular Bible website. Stephen is also the voice behind where he, obviously, promotes openness of scriptural data. In his talk Stephen described a data format that would enable not only the portability of users’ data around the Web and among their devices, but it would also allow web apps to integrate scriptural data from across the Web, making possible new applications powered by this data. His talk examines the requirements for such a system and it outlines possible ways to implement it. He announced that the Open Scriptures Google Group would be where collaboration on such standardization would take place (see threads one and two).

Sean Boisen of Semantic Bible, who last year presented on Bibleref, this year presented on the Bible Knowledgebase (BK). The project’s goal is to identify and mine all of the people, places, and things in the Bible and to connect them all together into Linked Data. While this is a proprietary product of Logos, there is hope that the identifiers (URIs) used will be published so that the community can standardize on a common namespace.

And lastly, of course, I presented the Open Scriptures project itself, and I am thankful for how well it turned out. The multimedia from the talk is available.


  1. N. Dan Smith

    Are there yet any plans for next year’s conference?

  2. J.D. Elgin

    N. Dan Smith,

    There will definitely be a 2010 conference. It will be in the Seattle area and will likely be held in the Spring. That’s about all we have at this point, though.

    We are also planning to open a BibleTech blog that will function a bit like a network-style blog and will be a place for past and future speakers to share their ideas and projects throughout the year.

    Stay tuned to and make sure you’re on the email list!

    Thanks for the great post, Weston!


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