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The Society of Biblical Literature and theAmerican Bible Society jointly hosted the Bible Technologies Conference toexplore the formation of a group to address the need for common markup standardsfor biblical and related materials. The goal of the conference and working groupis to develop markup standards that will empower users, publishers and softwarevendors around the world to use XML in their study and publication of anddevelopment of software for biblical and related texts.

The participants in this process have manydifferent agendas, missions and interests, all of which would be served by acommon markup standard. What we share in common is an interest in biblical textsand related materials, each from their own perspective. This effort does notseek to promote any particular agenda, mission or interest, but leaves that tothe good offices of its participants, relying upon the results of our commoneffort together.

The need for organization in any such effort is afact of life in our increasingly complex society. Due to the diversity ofinterests represented at the conference and our varying experience with theprocess of developing standards, the BTG will be using an adaptation of theOASIS Technical Committee policy to guide its work until the next meeting. Thisis a "trial-run" or "goodness of fit" period will help thegroup decide on the strengths or weakness of that process and guide its choiceof a more permanent structure. It also allows us to decide on work items topursue during this interim period to test the process set forth.

Deliverables such as complex markup fordictionaries, scholarly critical editions, primary texts in original languageswill be undertaken jointly with interested groups such as bible and academicsocieties, the TEI Consortium and publishers.

Steve DeRose will chair the working group. He hasbeen working with structured document systems and hypertext since becomingdirector of the FRESS hypertext system in 1979. His combined interests innatural language processing, classical and Biblical literature, and documentprocessing have kept him near the center of the electronic text world. Hisundergraduate degrees include Computer Science, New Testament and Linguistics,with a thesis on the Pastoral authorship problem. His Ph.D. at Brown Universityin Computational Linguistics concerned statistical grammatical analysis ofEnglish and Koine corpora. After working briefly at SIL on the beginnings oftheir well-known CELLAR system and as a consulting designer on the CDWordproject, he co-founded Electronic Book Technologies and built the first SGMLbrowser and retrieval system, "DynaText". EBT grew profitably to 150employees before being sold to Inso (now eBusiness Technologies). DynaText isstill used heavily for large aircraft, telecommunications, and other manuals andfor literary collections. DeRose is now Chief Scientist of Brown University'sScholarly Technology Group, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Computer Science.He is active, often as an editor, in standards efforts including XML, X Base,XPath, XPointer, Xlink, Open eBook, TEI, EAD, Open eBook, and others. He is afrequent speaker in industry and academe, and has written many papers, twobooks, and ten patents.

Citation: , " Common Format," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited May 2004]. Online:


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