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Wikipitaka - The Completing Tipitaka

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The Completing Tipitaka

About the history of Wikipitaka, please see here.

WikipitakaEdit

Summary

Wikipitaka© is an attempt to compile and complete an English translation of the Tipitaka, the Buddhist sacred scripture, and its commentaries in order to enable complete features of online text: searching, browsing, linking, instant editing as well as looking up terms in an online dictionary.

Unmet NeedsEdit

  • While Buddhism is the third largest world’s religion, there is no complete online English translation of the Tipitaka.
  • There is absolutely no online commentary of the Tipitaka
  • While searching is what make electronic text distinct, the existing online Tipitaka’s are not searchable.
  • Terminology used in the existing translations of the Tipitaka are diverse, hard to comprehend.
  • Terminology used in the Tipitaka are in Pali-Sanskrit, and readers of the Tipitaka usually encounter difficulty in understanding them.

UniquenessEdit

  • Searchability
  • Standardized translation
  • Wiki format which allows users to participate in the process of completing (building) the Tipitaka, which is considered the supreme merit by Buddhists
  • Expanded scripture: Wikiptaka© is the first and the only web service that provides an expansive feature of the Tipitaka: different translations, commentaries, exegeses, interpretations, historical significances, discussions, dictionary, and encyclopedia.

Wikipitaka's AdvantagesEdit

  • Complete Features of an Online Text: such as search, browse, link, addition, edition and discussion.

The Wikipitaka© will be linked to an existing Dictionary of Buddhism, such as Andover-Harvard Library’s Dictionary of Buddhism or Stanford-subscribed Encyclopedia of Buddhism.

With client-side internet technology, users can simply double-click on the text to search the dictionary which appears on a new, popup page.

  • Expansive Canon: Wikiptaka© is the first and the only web service that provides an expansive feature of the Tipitaka: different translations, commentaries, exegeses, interpretations, historical significances, discussions, dictionary, and encyclopedia. Because in reality, there are several texts that attach to or elaborate on the Tipitaka, but these “secondary” texts are not yet online.

Under each sutta page, there will be five tabs (or links) for Original Pali Text, Commentary, Significance, Interpretation, and Discussion Forum. With help of users, we can complete this expansion very soon.

Sitemap

Schematic depiction of Wikipitaka sitemap

  • Inclusiveness & More User Involvement: Users get to take an active role in the web space. By the nature of a wiki, it opens up for people to edit, add, or erase any of the texts. This will make users feel as if they were a part of the community and continue using the website. Because of this openness, Wikipedia have more than two billion pages within five years, and we hope to succeed with this policy as well.

What you can do in WikipitakaEdit

Main PageEdit

The Main Page is divided into three sections:

RegistrationEdit

Register Now! You can freely edit the existing pages. But to add a new page, you are required to register using your e-mail address. This process is kept easy for your convenience.

SearchEdit

On the toolbar of every page, there is a search bar. You can use this search bar to search for any specific terms or phrase in the Tipitaka as well as the accompanying pages. Search result ranks by percentage of relevancy.

Synonym SearchEdit

There is a separate list of Pali terms in Glossary. These terms are linked to their possible translations, once a user search for a term in the list, the search engine will automatically search the website for all possible translations of the term as well as its variations. By this method, we can guarantee that the user will get every passage relevant to his or her keyword.

DictionaryEdit

Wikipitaka© can be link to an online Dictionary of Buddhism. There is a link to the dictionary on the toolbar.

Administrative StaffEdit

For full description see Management Team.

Academic CommitteeEdit

At the moment, Wikipitaka has just a handful of staff who help maintaining the website:

  1. Scripture Specialists
  2. Language Specialists
    1. Primary Languages: Pali-Sanskrit
    2. Secondary Languages: Thai (Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Laos, Mongolian, Sinhalese, and Tibetan)
    3. Target Languages: English (French, German, Italian, etc.)
  3. Culture-History Specialists

These specialists can be recruited from two resources:

  1. Buddhist scholars in Buddhist Universities, Pali-Sanskrit schools, and Buddhist temples: This group can be reached through special connections with administrative figures in the institutions such as presidents and abbots. For instance:
    1. We have been in touch with the Director of Wat Bowonniwet Vihara Pariyatti School (Thailand’s oldest School of Buddhist Learning) for nine years, since one of our management team members was ordained under his supervision.
    2. We are a good friend of some Ph.D. students in Sanskrit at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University.
    3. We have a strong connection with the webmaster and the abbot of Dhammakaya Foundation, a large and affluent Buddhist institution.
  2. Active and knowledgeable Wikipitaka© members like you!

If Wikipitaka© gets so large that it cannot be administered by the standing management team alone, there must be sufficiently large number of members of members. The CEO, upon suggestion of Academic Committee, will communicate with some active members of the community and invite them to join the Academic Committee and/or Web Administrator team. They can serve in the course of one year or a quarter.

Our GoalEdit

Target UsersEdit

This website will best serve the interest of scholars as well as practitioners of Buddhism. As a complete, searchable online Pali Canon, Wikipitaka© will provide Buddhist scholars a powerful tool to explore and analyze the Tipitaka.

Target Number of UsersEdit

The main target group is not only western scholars but also Buddhist scholars in major Buddhist countries. This includes Burma, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, and Vietnam. In these countries, Buddhism has about 376 million followers (Wikipedia). By estimation, 0.1 percent of Buddhist is considered scholars who would find Wikipitaka© useful. That is, the number of users of Wikipitaka© is estimated to be 376,000.

SizeEdit

Because the goal of Wikipitaka© is to emulate other online sacred scriptures, such as The Qur’an and The Bible, the basic goal is to reach the same, if not greater, number of users (customers) proportionate to the religious population.

According to one of the online Qur'an websites, Kor'an, it reaches the total number of users of 126,814 (as at 10:42 pm PST, May 3, 2006) within 5 months (December 3, 2005-May 3, 2006). That is, on average, 25,363 users visit the site monthly. This is in comparison with one of the (few) existing online Tipitaka websites, “Tipitaka Online”, whose number of users reaches 616,633 (as at 10:44 pm PST, May 3, 2006) in 8 years (May 15, 1998-May 4, 2006), with the average of 6,423 visitors a month. We see that the number of monthly users of “Kor’an” is four times greater than that of the Tipitaka wile the total number of Islam followers is only twice as big as the number of Buddhism followers. Using Kor’an website as a standard (this website won “Best Islamic Site Award”), we aim our target size (as in 2006) to at least 13,000 users a month.

Penetration and Access of the Target UsersEdit

Even though Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world (Wikipedia), most of the Buddhist Scholars are in developing countries where internet access is not so common (as in 2006). Also, most of the Buddhist scholars live an ascetic life style and might not have an access to the Internet. Thus, most of the target users might not be able to access the website in 2006.

Yet, in Thailand for example, monks and nuns have increasingly become technologically aware as the number of Buddhist websites maintained by practitioners and monks increases significantly during 2000-2005. Because the number of internet users in monastery settings is proportionate to the total number of internet users in Thailand, Wikipitaka© will be successful when the internet usage reaches a level at which the people accept it as a daily activity.

In The Growth and Development of the Internet in the United States by Martin Kenny in 2001, Kenny concludes that the factors that contribute to the rapid growth of the Internet are political economy of the telecommunications system, the willingness of Americans to order remotely, and the creation of an infrastructure centered upon venture capital meant to support hightechnology entrepreneurship. In Thailand, the government invests much of its spending into creating these conditions through its brand new Ministry of ICT (Information and Communication Technology). For example, high speed internet ADSL cost has been decreasing constantly since last year. This results in the dramatic increase in the number of ADSL users as well as the overall internet users. The strong support from the government results in the increase in national internet usage. As shown in Figure 2, the number of Thai internet users grows linearly ever year since 2000 and grows 266.1% in 2000-2005 (http://www.internetworldstats.com/). With the growth of high speed internet and the decrease in its cost, the number of internet users is estimated to increase exponentially in 2006 and the year beyond.

With the expansion of the internet usage in Thailand and in other Buddhist countries alike, we can predict that within ten years, Buddhist scholars will have an access to the Internet, and Wikipitaka© can be accessed by every target user and participant. This means it is better to launch this project when the target community is ready, that is when most of the Buddhist scholars are familiar with the Internet and online research. This process can take five or ten years to come true.

Other Online Tipitaka WebsitesEdit

Because of the language differences, no translation can capture the true meaning of the Tipitaka. So, it is very important to look at many translations of a passage and treat them as mirrors that reflect one ultimate meaning of the Tipitaka. See the complete list at Wikipitaka's Partner websites.

Existing WebsitesEdit

There are just a handful of online Tipitaka websites (as listed below). None of which allows searching which is the key feature in an electronic text. Also, none of which has a complete, standardized translation of the Tipitaka. Also, most of them are rarely updated.

List of existing online Tipitaka:

  1. Accesstoinsight.org: one of the most complete, reliable collection of Pali Canon
  2. Tipitaka Online: A translation from Burmese Tipitaka by Dr. Maung M. Lwin. Starting eight years ago, it is still an ongoing attempt to complete the translation. The website uses yahoo e-mail list as a discussion forum, yet there has been no respond from other member beside Dr. Lwin himself recently.
  3. Metta.lk: The collection contains Pali, Sinhala, and English translations. The English collection is by various authors often downloaded from the Internet.
  4. Tipitaka.com: a complete Thai translation.
  5. Palikanon.com: an incomplete Spanish translation.

Potential WebsitesEdit

Although it is always possible for anyone to startup a new website of a similar kind, we firmly believe that at the moment there is no such an attempt. Because this is not a particular popular moment for Buddhism, yet a peak period for startup internet companies, and most of the Buddhist followers are in the countries with low internet accessibility, it is unlikely that any other potential competitor would come up with the same idea at the moment.

Key AssumptionsEdit

  1. Internet Penetration: We assume that by the time we launch Wikipitaka©, the internet penetration in major Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, and China will be high enough to allow enough Buddhist scholars to access the website and join the community.
  2. Users’ Willingness to Share their Knowledge: Like Wikipedia, the success of Wikipitaka© has to depend on users’ participation. We will post a famous Buddhist aphorism: “Among all charity, charity of knowledge is the greatest” to emphasize the importance of this project and appeal to Buddhist practitioners to seek a way to accumulate good karma even in the Cyber World.
  3. Credibility: Although the purpose of Wikipitaka© is to provide the most complete and accurate translation of the Tipitaka, some skeptics can always criticize the lack of central authority and thus the credibility of the translation. However, there is no better way to defend ourselves than letting the truth prove itself, like the case of Wikipedia.

See AlsoEdit

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