Developing a Common “Brain” for Our Systems

Many of the potential new applications we’d like to develop will depend upon common functionality that should be encapsulated into its own application. I don’t know exactly what we should call it (Reformed Media? The νοῦς?).

This system would provide a structure for theological resources. The big entities are people, books, and Scripture references. These items drive much of the conversation at Reformed Forum. Nearly every podcast episode or blog post references people, books, or Scripture references. At the same time, it’s hard to find resources given any one of these entities. Consider a few use cases:

  • You’re studying Philippians 2:5–11 and are looking for resources that deal with the subject. You’d like to listen to podcasts and sermons, read blog posts, journal articles, or books that reference these verses.
  • You’re listening to a podcast episode and someone mentioned a book. You’d like to buy that book and join in an online discussion about it. Perhaps you’re also interested in downloading a study guide to help you lead a discussion group on the book.
  • Someone suggested you look into reading John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied. You search our site and find several places where you can buy new and used copies. You also notice a podcast episode devoted to the book, other books by John Murray, and an online discussion group currently reading the book together.
  • You’d like to subscribe to an RSS feed for all of Sinclair Ferguson’s books, posts, conference addresses, and sermons.

I envision a database and application that allows us to structure all of Reformed Forum’s resources as well as trusted resources from around the web. In a way, this would be the brain behind a next-generation hybrid between Monergism.com and SermonAudio.com.

Currently, much of this functionality is already included in the Reformed Academy Python/Django app. But the more I think about our other projects, the more appropriate it seems to move much of this functionality to its own project with its own name. Django allows you to create reusable modules, so I don’t know how important this is, technologically. It seems appropriate however, conceptually and organizationally. The potential for such a system is enormous, especially if we opened the API to other applications.

About the Author

Camden Bucey

Camden Bucey

8 comments on “Developing a Common “Brain” for Our Systems

  • July 23, 2016 at 5:03 pm
    Mark Goddard

    This is a great idea. I have thought about such a project on and off and thought that Reformed Forum would be the perfect organization to sponsor such a system. I wasn’t aware that you had already done a lot of this work. From the perspective of software architecture, it is definitely better to separate infrastructure from presentation and “product” naming and packaging. However, I have learned that infrastructure only gets attention in the context of “real products”, so the “project” it is associated with doesn’t really matter.

    Reply
    • July 23, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      That’s great. For a while, we’ve been talking about this functionality under the heading of Reformed Academy. But if the functionality is used by a wider range of applications, it makes sense to call it something different. Reformed Academy is distinctive for its educational purposes. It packages our existing media into course modules and assignments. Conceptually, it isn’t the engine. It’s one of many systems that uses the engine. The question is what we call the “engine.”

      Reply
  • July 23, 2016 at 6:41 pm
    Mark Goddard

    As far as names go. I like the νοῦς idea or some other cool Greek, Hebrew or Latin word. I don’t know enough of those languages to suggest something.

    Reply
    • July 23, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      I like νοῦς too, but it sounds like “noose”!

      Reply
  • July 26, 2016 at 1:05 pm
    Mark Goddard

    Cool. I will take a look and get it running locally to get familiar. One thing I did notice is that the documentation link seems to be broken.

    Reply
    • July 26, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      I have updated the readme to remove the old stuff from the cookiecutter template I used to get started.

      Let me know if you have issues getting setup. Slack or an issue on Github is probably best.

      Reply
  • July 29, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    On my own, I’ve been using Semantic Mediawiki to accomplish *something* like this, but it is not very scalable. Part of the problem is that a lot of Reformed commentators are well-educated and reference the Greek or Hebrew. There are no free resources equivalent to Logos or Accordance, so I tried to roll my own. I’m happy to share, though it is hosted on my home computer at present:
    http://24.107.91.60/w/index.php/Colossians_1:23
    (hit “show”)

    Reply

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