Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bible Search

Project Status: Still Dreaming

In all my attempts, I have never found a great Bible search. It's something that even Google is lacking at the moment. I would really love to start up a free open source Bible search platform.

It would start out as a bare bones beta project with exact word matches tied in. After all; exact word match is the best I can find so far for any Bible searches I have come across. With usage and a lot of time this project would get better and better. It would basically do it's best to mimic Google's search abilities but focused on one book, one very important book, instead of the entire world.

The project could pick up volunteer users as moderators. Thus helping the project learn faster over a shorter period of time. I would love to gear use of this Bible search platform towards pastors, leaders in the Christian community and Bible based universities. After all; these people spend hours on end studying the Bible and I for one would love to use my limited programming abilities to help them to do so.

It would be imperative to provide application programming interface (API) access to the platform. Essentially building in open data pipelines for anyone that wanted to help improve the platform or use it (which actually also helps to improve it) within their own websites, apps or projects. The goal being that anyone who wants to easily tie in Bible searching to an on going project of their own, should have free access to do so.

There are many sites that help pastors to work on materials for their weekly sermons. This tool could be freely tied in to those existing sites so that over time it would be easier and easier for these pastors to find related material for what they are working on.

You may be familiar with bible.com which became a part of youversion.com back on August 30th, 2012 (according to their blog). If you ask me YouVersion has one of the best Bible apps out there today and it is continuing to get better all the time. However; even their search abilities are still lacking.

If I go to bible.com today (5/6/2014) and search for the word "tattoo" there are no results. It only says "We couldn't find anything to match your criteria. Try widening your search." because this word does not actually appear in the Bible.

If I refine my search and try "markings" then I do get results back, but the first one related to anything I was actually looking for is the fifth verse listed (Leviticus 19:28) which I have to scroll down to see. The goal of this platform would be to make connections such as the fact that the word tattoo should be related to this verse even though it doesn't actually appear in the verse and then to make that knowledge freely available to anyone that wants to use it.

I wold love to go work for these guys and do everything I could to make their search feature awesome, but I think it would be far better to build a separate platform as described here and let them tap into it for free. With large companies using the platform on a daily bases, such as YouVersion which has over 100 million downloads of their app (according to this blog from July of 2013), the sheer quantities of search queries and user interaction would help the platform to learn and get better than anyone has seen before.