Scripture study tools

Discussions about the Notes and Journal tool on LDS.org. This includes the Study Toolbar as well as the scriptures and other content on LDS.org that is integrated with Notes and Journal.
awayment-p40
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Scripture study tools

Postby awayment-p40 » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:59 pm

I'm new here, so please forgive me if this thread is redundant or misplaced.

On these forums, I have a found a smattering of ideas about improving members' options for using technology to study the scriptures. For many, "studying the scriptures" does not mean just reading or searching the text, it also denotes an exercise in personal annotation. Methods of annotation vary from person to person, but may include the use of color codes, cross-references, writing in scripture journals, or even the occasional, well-placed sticker.

I wonder if there is a plan for building personal annotation capabilities into scriptures.lds.org.

If no, I am curious if there is an LDS-tech-community interest in an open source project (possibly already in progress) that could be helpful in filling the void of study tools.

Supposing there are workarounds for some of the legal challenges with copyrights, I guess this thread is really about intentions and interest. I wonder what technology tools others would find (or have already found!) useful.

Some of the study tools that I would find most helpful are custom versions of the study aides already provided by the scriptures.

1) Personal Topical Guide: this would provide a way to group scriptures in a way that I see them. Of course, I want to choose both the topics and which scriptures reference it. This is similar to the topical color code systems that I have seen other people use.

2) Personal cross-references: an ability to cross-link verses.

3) Personal (Bible) Dictionary: scriptural terms and players take on layers of meanings. Therefore, it is desirable for words to be associated with personal definitions.

4) "Margin" Notes: Adding comments that I am now writing in the margins of my scriptures.

rparker
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Scripture study tools - plus more

Postby rparker » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:05 pm

I whole-heartedly agree that this would be useful! Thank you, awayment, for posting the suggestions!

These are right in line with some of my own thoughts on where scripture study tools could be headed, if anyone were interested in pushing technological boundaries a bit, though I haven't seen anything that even attempts to do what you are outlining.

I'd expect that there would be a capability to collapse all of this personal supplemental material (so you can return to focusing on the scriptures in their purity). But a timestamped footnote with personal thoughts and crosslinks would be a wonderful supplement. How many overly-redlined copies of the Book of Mormon have we each gone through, marking a portion which sparked deep, spiritual thoughts (or conversations), only to have those insights lost by the wayside?

And why should the cross-linking be limited to the scriptures? Why not allow cross referencing other Conference talks? Quotes from other prominent media? Perhaps at some point, even allow access via a social networking type of site to share thoughts (perhaps across an institute class or a Sunday School or Priesthood lesson?).

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:49 pm

If you search this site hard (and long) enough, you'll find a few threads devoted to starting new projects about scripture study, many with the same features you are looking for. However, I cannot think of a single project that has lasted very long, as I believe all have succumb to abandonment.

A project I joined but never did much with started out as a website that would show you the content from LDS.org and then allow you to annotate; however, because of copyright issues, the focus of the project turned to a desktop app that would download the scripture HTML and then go from there. The logic was that it was legal to download the scripture content for personal use, but it could not be redistributed nor stored on "computer networks" and I think it might have said something about web servers. So we decided that a desktop app was just merely facilitating the download of the scripture content on behalf of the user for personal use. However, this project has died because of inactivity and just being busy with other things I believe.

There certainly is a possibility a project like this could possibly happen as Church-sponsored, community-developed project; see the LDS Tech Wiki for more info on these new types of projects: http://tech.lds.org/wiki/

You might also find this thread interesting: http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1865

awayment-p40
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Postby awayment-p40 » Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:35 am

RickParker wrote:I whole-heartedly agree that this would be useful! Thank you, awayment, for posting the suggestions!

These are right in line with some of my own thoughts on where scripture study tools could be headed, if anyone were interested in pushing technological boundaries a bit, though I haven't seen anything that even attempts to do what you are outlining.

I'd expect that there would be a capability to collapse all of this personal supplemental material (so you can return to focusing on the scriptures in their purity). But a timestamped footnote with personal thoughts and crosslinks would be a wonderful supplement. How many overly-redlined copies of the Book of Mormon have we each gone through, marking a portion which sparked deep, spiritual thoughts (or conversations), only to have those insights lost by the wayside?

And why should the cross-linking be limited to the scriptures? Why not allow cross referencing other Conference talks? Quotes from other prominent media? Perhaps at some point, even allow access via a social networking type of site to share thoughts (perhaps across an institute class or a Sunday School or Priesthood lesson?).

I am glad I am not the only one thinking along these lines! Yep it would be very cool to be able to link specific conference talks. Once, you have the ability to add personal hyperlinks (for cross-referencing), it should be easy to do. However, I think it unlikely that lds.org would allow linking to external sites.

mkmurray wrote:If you search this site hard (and long) enough, you'll find a few threads devoted to starting new projects about scripture study, many with the same features you are looking for. However, I cannot think of a single project that has lasted very long, as I believe all have succumb to abandonment.

A project I joined but never did much with started out as a website that would show you the content from LDS.org and then allow you to annotate; however, because of copyright issues, the focus of the project turned to a desktop app that would download the scripture HTML and then go from there. The logic was that it was legal to download the scripture content for personal use, but it could not be redistributed nor stored on "computer networks" and I think it might have said something about web servers. So we decided that a desktop app was just merely facilitating the download of the scripture content on behalf of the user for personal use. However, this project has died because of inactivity and just being busy with other things I believe.

There certainly is a possibility a project like this could possibly happen as Church-sponsored, community-developed project; see the LDS Tech Wiki for more info on these new types of projects: http://tech.lds.org/wiki/

You might also find this thread interesting: http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1865

I see, so API legal limbo seems to make it hard to get/keep a web project going. That's a pity.

Searching the forum, I found readthescriptures.com, which seems to have some of the features I am looking for, but lacks many of the study aides, footnotes, etc. I assume the copyright issues keep it limited. As far as a stand alone desktop app., I also found this app, which is already produced by the Church. I am not too keen on reinventing the wheel, so I may check it out, and report back on how it fits my needs (I worry it is a bit dated, since there is no Mac or Vista version). Someone also mentioned using Google notebook, so I will try that as well.

If none of these work, I may try starting a new community project. Thanks for the link to the wiki!

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:12 am

awayment wrote:If none of these work, I may try starting a new community project.

Just to clear up something, I have not seen anyone start their own Community Project on the Church's wiki. I'm not sure what the policy is around this process of submitting Community Project ideas. The person to contact about an idea would be Tom Welch:

http://tech.lds.org/forum/member.php?u=1

However, if you're thinking about a Community Project not on the Church's wiki or hosted servers, then there's nothing stopping you. I would be sure to read up as much as you can about legal stuff on the Church's Scriptures site, just to make sure that whatever you do is inline with policy.

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Postby WelchTC » Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:23 am

To enable such a project, what is first needed is a Scriptures API where an application can call into scriptures.lds.org via a web service and return back the scriptures with all footnotes, links, etc. This web service has been proposed by the scriptures team. Assuming all approvals are cleared, we could provide this service early next year. It may not get approved so please don't hold me to it. ;)

Tom

jeremyhunt
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Postby jeremyhunt » Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:51 pm

Oh I hope it gets approved. If it doesn't...I desperately want to see markup/annotating capabilities at scriptures.lds.org. What is mentioned on this thread sounds great, but even simple text markup (underline, text color change, highlight) and annotations that persist for each user would be wonderful.

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Postby jeremyhunt » Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:00 pm

awayment wrote: I also found this app, which is already produced by the Church. I am not too keen on reinventing the wheel, so I may check it out, and report back on how it fits my needs (I worry it is a bit dated, since there is no Mac or Vista version).


The desktop version is really nice in many ways, but it lacks any kind of sophistication in markups. You can only highlight text in a really garish,ugly, blocky way. If you could change text color, highlight, and underline all independently, I think this app would be a lot more viable. The note system also uses some wacky note file format (.enb), xml would be much better. A Mac version is badly needed too.

-jrmy

slloyd-p40
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Postby slloyd-p40 » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:32 pm

I have started such a project at http://www.dearscriptures.com
I am currently working on a better design with some new features subscribers have requested.
I hope to have the new version live soon (couple of weeks).
Some of the new features are:
- ability to underline and highlight part of a verse.
- context menu for access to verse options.
- dictionary lookup

slloyd-p40
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New Design is up

Postby slloyd-p40 » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:47 pm

I have now updated the site with all of the stated features and a few more. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.

http://www.dearscriptures.com

Steve

slloyd wrote:I have started such a project at http://www.dearscriptures.com
I am currently working on a better design with some new features subscribers have requested.
I hope to have the new version live soon (couple of weeks).
Some of the new features are:
- ability to underline and highlight part of a verse.
- context menu for access to verse options.
- dictionary lookup


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