What is this About?
We want to have a computer environment that supports and facilitates study and research of Jewish Orthodox texts. (Most of the technological pieces that we need to develop are not at all specific to Jewish Orthodox Texts. On the other hand, desire to facilitate study of such texts is our primary motivation.)
This "dream system" will record various information about the texts and support doing interesting things with them.
On the text level, we want to allow marking up names of people and places, index entries, logical structure of statements, user-defined tags and the like. On the structural level: allow capturing of multiple structures of the same text, for example - chapter/verse and pages of a printed edition. On the intra-text level: record links from one text to another with their types and other metadata, and support link reversal.
The system should support marking up and working with texts that are stored in different systems (WikiMedia, Sefaria etc.).
It should be possible to print any text with glosses formatted nicely.
The system should be accessible through a clean, even minimalist, but powerful web-based interface. Mass participation - proofreading of the texts, marking them up, clarifying the cross-references and such - should be very much supported.
The system should be also accessible through a web-based API, which the UI should be built on top off (think headless CMS). This API should support modification of the document text as text, but also markup-aware operations. Everything doable via UI should be doable via API.
Texts should be retrievable and modifiable in various formats (primarily - TEI), thus supporting text editor workflow.
API and UI built on top of it should support editing and publishing text like this paper :)
Initial conversations in this area took place in 1992-1994, between Leonid Dubinsky and Baruch Gorkin. Most of the requirements were understood then, but not the need for universal web-availability and crowdsourcing: access to the Internet was not what it is now.
We realized that a standard approach to text markup has to be used, and settled on SGML (XML did not yet exist).
In the summer of 2006, discussions restarted between Dubinsky and Gorkin. Crowdsourcing and potential commercialization were discussed. In the Fall of 2006, Michoel Koritz joined in.
In 2019, work on the 19 Kislev archive (www.alter-rebbe.org) lead to a renewed interest in the project.