YouVersion is a new on-line Bible reading application, recently out into public Beta and sporting a Web 2.0-style interface. There have been a spate of these sites over the last few years (ever since that Web2.0 thing started catching on: i got on board with the meme back in January 2006). What features turn an on-line Bible application into Bible 2.0? You start with texts you can read online, navigate through, and search. But the key differentiators are additional features like

  • User-generated content (comments, links, photos, etc.) attached to verses
  • “tags” (brief user-supplied annotations, in the style of del.icio.us) that let you label verses in ways that are meaningful to you (and that also often support discovery by others)
  • Other kinds of ratings (like stars, votes, etc.) so you can indicate your interest in a passage and others can see the accumlation of that interest across readers

A number of Bible 2.0 applications have emerged over the last few years

  • ebible.com has searchable bookmarks so you can see what others are saying about specific verses
  • The NeXtBible at bible.org has some interesting integration of study tools (names, cross-references), though without social bookmarking it doesn’t really count as Bible 2.0
  • There are a number of Bible sites under Ning, a tool which aims to make it easy to create highly-personalized social network sites. Most seem to be very small communities, not full-featured tools, though.
  • xpound.org seems to have fallen into the dead pool (Blogos post here), but in its day also tried to offer many of these features

(and of course lots of other sites that simply provide readable Bible texts on-line: i’ve left them out if they don’t include features like tagging and community aggregation.)

Things i like about YouVersion:

  • There’s a vertical line alongside the text whose shade of gray indicates how many other people have commented on or tagged a passage. That provides a nice visual indicator that’s not too intrusive.
  • There’s a good selection of translations

Things i don’t like so much (keep in mind this is a beta, so these will hopefully improve):

  • While i can see the promise of features like tags and personal comments on verses, none of the sites i’ve seen so far (including YouVersion) have enough contributions yet over enough different verses to make the aggregate very useful.
  • The interface for starring or tagging them took me a while to figure out, and doesn’t seem very intuitive.
  • Why is KJV the default version? This is a pet peeve of mine (donning asbestos underwear) … there’s just no excuse today for someone who actually wants to understand the Bible to use this archaic translation. People, the English language (not to mention our manuscript knowledge) has changed in the last 400 years! If you’ve got issues about the manuscripts or the style, please, at least use the New KJV. My own recommendation: if you want to study (on this site), use the ESV: if you just want to casually read (according to their blog, i see they’re close to providing the Contemporary English Version, my current favorite among dynamic equivalence translations).

(Hat tip to DJ at http://digital.leadnet.org, which is where i heard about YouVersion)