Here are some of my former or current projects.
For almost twenty years now, I have tried to build or contribute to what I sometimes call the Scholar's workbench. This is the computer as a research assistant for Chinese studies, providing citations, looking up things in reference works and in general helping to organize notes, translation snippets, bibliographic references etc.etc.
One of the first attempts was a program written in TurboPascal 4 for DOS. It could display an electronic text and manage annotations to words done. Not long after finishing it, I moved to Windows as a working environment, so it got abandoned. Some of the things done later have been published on the ZenBase CD1:
- Concordance Creating Program, International Research Institute for Zen-Buddhism, Hanazono University, Kyoto, 1993-1994.
- Electronic text tools: IRIZ concordance maker, IRIZ kanji code conversion tools, IRIZ kanji normalization tool, IRIZ electronic text format conversion tool, IRIZ KanjiBase tools for Windows, IRIZ KanjiBase tools for Macintosh, IRIZ text statistic tools , in: ZenBase CD1, Kyoto, June 1995.
- Electronic tools for Zen research, in: ZenBase CD1, Kyoto, June 1995.
In 1999, with support from the German Research Council (DFG), I started to work on the System for Markup And Retrieval of Text. This was an attempt to realize the promise markup as a technology helds for scholars, that is it can record the daily process of searching through text collections, read and collect information, collate excerpts with other text witnesses and so forth. A first, very limited prototype was realized as an extension to Microsoft Word, but this proved not to be a viable route for development, so I switched to Emacs as the base for future developments. During the time available, a set of elisp commands had been created that allowed some interaction with XML text corpora and text searches. A considerable amount of time was spent to design an indexing scheme that would allow phrase searches over all different witnesses of a text. Unfortunately with a new job I got distracted and had to stop working on this.
Many years later, I was still banging my head against the same problems. Now I thought that Filemaker would be a suitable environment to create some kind of HyperCard clone with built-in grep and a bunch of dictionaries. As could be expected, this was not exactly a promising road either.
- "漢讀：新しいテキスト・モデルに基づいた東洋学文献研究支援ツール"ウィッテルン・クリスティアン and 中楯はまな, in: 情報処理学会 研究報告 2007-CH-74, 2007, pp.9-16
- "Reading the Text, Weaving the Web: Scholarly Interactions with Digital Text", presented at EBTI after 15 and CBETA at 10 Years: Joint International Conference on Digital Buddhist Studies, Dharma Drum Buddhist College Taipei, February 15-17, 2008.
The above have been merely a number of preludes and temporary measures until the technologies were ready to to the obvious thing, a web based version. This is what I am currently working at, it will be based on eXist and probably Solr. At the time of this writing (April 2008), I just started with this, so it might be a while.
Chan Knowledgebase project
In this project, I am trying to collect, annotate and analyze texts and information pertaining to the Chan school in China, mainly from tradited texts starting from the late Tang to about the Yuan dynasty. The texts will then be made available in a new critical edition that will allow the user to interactively retrieve and further annotate parts of the text, compare them with other parts and discover and peruse dependencies, similiarities and borrowings in the text.
At the moment, the following texts are in various states of preparation and will be released as soon as they become ready:
|Title in Pinyin
|Jingde chuandeng lu
|Tiansheng guangdeng lu
|Jianzhong jingguo xudeng lu
|Zongmen liandeng huiyao
|Jiatai pudeng lu
Integrated Buddhist Archives IBA-net
My longstanding interest in the digitization of Chinese Buddhist primary texts and the usage of such resources has recently become a new focus in the IBA-net, which is an attempt at bringing the old EBTI dream of integrated digital resources on Buddhism across languages, disciplines and resource types on a sound technical basis. This is developing slowly, but it will be coming. Watch this space for more information, or join the discussions here.
Monica Esposito (1962-2011) was leading an effort to create a new electronic edition of the Qing Daoist collection 道藏輯要 Daozang jiyao, on which we collaborated; now I am trying to get the digital edition ready without her help.