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October 30th, 2008

Logos Conference Specials at ETS/SBL

Alas, i won’t be going to this year’s Society for Biblical Literature or Evangelical Theological Society conferences, even sadder because this year’s SBL is in Boston, where i used to live. I enjoyed the three previous SBL conferences i attended (where i made presentations, all of which you can find here), but this year i’ve got my nose to the data grindstone churning out new projects.

But if you’re going, be aware that the folks at Logos are planning a dozen “conference special” bundles with very attractive pricing, covering some important titles in Greek and Hebrew, NT studies, theology, apologetics, etc. If you’re interested in more details, you can call Academic Sales, or just go by the booth at the conference.

Disclaimer: i work for Logos, so i’m not a disinterested party. But i don’t work on commission 🙂

October 30th, 2008

Logos RefTagger

Maybe, like me:

  • you’re a WordPress blogger and you include Bible references like Psalm 119:60 in your posts
  • you’ve been saying to yourself “yeah, i really should install RefTagger, i’ll get around to that one of these days …”
  • you haven’t actually gotten around to it yet

Well, today was the day i finally got around to it: Blogos is now powered by RefTagger. It took me all of 5 minutes to

  1. Download the WordPress plugin from this page.
  2. Unzip it and upload the folder and its contents to my hosting service (i use and recommend FileZilla for stuff like this), typically (myblogdir)/wp-content/plugins/.
  3. Go to the WordPress admin page at (myblogURL)/wp-admin/plugins.php and activate it.
  4. Go to the WordPress admin options page at (myblogURL)/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=reftagger/RefTagger.php and do any customization (though none is required)

You won’t see RefTagger links on old posts that i linked by hand (by design, it doesn’t override those), but you should see it clearly on future references. I’ve added Libronix links to my configuration (the little L icon) for you Libronix users.

If you’ve been following the Bibleref thread, you may wonder how these two approaches interact. RefTagger will pick up anything marked as class=”bibleref”, so if you’ve been diligently using Bibleref markup, you’re good (actually, you’re better, since Bibleref allows you to mark some less common types of references that RefTagger can’t pick up). I plan to keep using Bibleref markup myself: but i also recognize it’s a lot easier for blog authors to not bother, and just let RefTagger do the work. And neither approach solves the big problem of searching for Bible references across the web, as i’ll discuss in a future post. Also, i haven’t yet added RefTagger to SemanticBible, my main site: that’s not quite as easy as WordPress, so i’ll have to get around to that one of these days.

October 28th, 2008

BibleTech 2009 Topic: the Libronix Controlled Vocabulary

Next in my experiment to gather feedback on possible BibleTech 2009 topics: the Libronix Controlled Vocabulary. This is the second of my two major activities over the last year (the other was described in my previous post), and therefore a pretty strong contender for a BibleTech presentation.

Unlike the Bible Knowledgebase, which is about real-world entities in the Biblical text, the Libronix Controlled Vocabulary (LCV) organizes terminology from the field of Biblical studies, principally Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other kinds of subject-oriented reference works. A controlled vocabulary identifies, organizes, and systematizes a specific set of terms for indexing content, capturing inter-term relationships, and expressing term hierarchies. Like other kinds of metadata, this infrastructure then supports applications in search, discovery, and general knowledge management. The initial version of the LCV was built by merging content from 7 of the most important Bible dictionaries in Libronix, and currently comprises some 11k terms: i expect it will eventually grow to 15k or perhaps more.

One interesting aspect of working in the specific domain of Biblical studies is that there is a core set of subjects that are common to many or most Bible dictionaries. This includes named individuals and places in the Bible, but also subjects like Heaven or Heresy. But while one dictionary has an article on Heresy (NBD [Libronix link], or Eastons [Libronix link]), another might have one entitled “Heresy and Orthodoxy in the NT” (Anchor [Libronix link]). These articles may have both common content but also significant differences, stemming from their intended audiences (scholarly vs. popular), theological orientation, comprehensiveness, etc. The LCV provides a way to capture some of these similarities, as well as enabling some interesting new capabilities for machine learning from existing prose content. For example:

  • what are the prototypical Bible references, names, or phrases used to discuss a topic?
  • can we learn anything about the importance of topics by looking at how much is written about them, how many dictionaries cover them, and other kinds of automated analysis?
  • what knowledge can be gleaned from the topology of terminology linkage (what links to what)?

I’m not sure i’ve provided enough information here to give a clear sense of what might be covered in such a talk, but i welcome any feedback from potential BibleTech attendees (or others) as to whether this sounds interesting, and which aspects of it you’d most like to learn about.

October 28th, 2008

BibleTech 2009 Topic: the Bible Knowledgebase

My most significant activity at Logos over the last year and a half has been building a database of people, places, and things i call the Bible Knowledgebase (BK). I’ve posted on numerous aspects of this project before (collected in this category), and thanks to lots of hard work by a number of individuals, we’re closing in on a relatively complete internal version. This won’t be released until the next major version of Logos software, so it’s public debut is still some ways off.

So one strong candidate for a BibleTech talk is a review of the BK, a machine-readable knowledge base of semantically-organized Bible data that is linked to Biblical texts to support search, navigation, visualization. The thousands of entities in the BK (people, places, and things, along with their names) have a variety of attributes that are appropriate to their type: people have family relationships, places have geo-coordinates, etc. Relationships between entities support discovery and exploration.
Unlike knowledge expressed in prose (like Bible dictionaries), BK data provides reusable content that can serve a variety of purposes. It also provides an important integration framework for Libronix resources, in the general spirit of Tim Berners-Lee’s Linked Data idea.

Some other topics the talk might address:

  • visualizing and learning from the graph of relationships
  • BK as an information architecture for other Libronix resources
  • challenges in building and using BK
  • some specific tools that have proved useful in managing BK development
  • a possible future for community participation in BK extension

So now, the audience participation portion of our program:

  • would you be interested in hearing a talk like this at BibleTech 2009?
  • what aspects are most/least interesting to you?

I’d encourage you to post a comment with your responses.

October 24th, 2008

BibleTech 2009

Things have been silent at Blogos for several months now: i needed to take a break and focus more intensely on moving along some of our major data projects at Logos (like the Bible Knowledgebase).

But i’m ready to get back to a more regular blogging schedule, and nothing gets the creative juices flowing like the prospects of another BibleTech conference! The first BibleTech (this past January) was one of the highlights of my year: here’s a list of 2008 speakers, including two presentations by me (you can find links to the slides here, and there’s an MP3 for the Zoomable Bible talk here, though be warned that it’s 150Mb and non-streaming). So i’m really looking forward to the next one, March 28-29 in Seattle.

The call for presentations has gone out, and so i face the dilemma of choosing among lots of different ideas and topics, and deciding what to propose. So many smart people attended the last conference that i’d love to just sit around and talk tech for several days straight, but i probably have to focus on just one or two topics.

So here’s your chance to give me some feedback (and for me to learn whether anybody’s still listening!). I’m planning to blog about some of my presentation ideas in subsequent posts, and i’d love to hear your comments about them. Does the topic make sense? Would you want to hear about it? Is it compelling, relevant, important, “cool”? Is it too obscure, too far out there, too geeky? What can i improve from last year (if you attended one of my talks)? It would really help me to have some feedback on these questions, especially from those who attended last year and therefore have a good feel for what the conference is all about (but i’ll take any comments i can get).

If you’re on Facebook, please join the BibleTech group.

Maybe you should be presenting at BibleTech 2009 too! The call for participation is open until Nov 3, and describes what we’re looking for, so get those abstracts in. And if i happen to mention a topic that you’re interested in presenting on, let me know and then go for it! There’s no shortage of things i’d like to talk about …