My Technical Journey

My professional career has focused on the information in human language and
how computer tools can make it more accessible and usable. But to me
personally, the most important information to be found in human language is
our knowledge of God, expressed in the Scriptures. Anything that can make
that information more available, or available in fresh ways, gives someone a
fresh opportunity to interact personally with Him.

In my younger days, I served on the staff of InterVarsity Christian
Fellowship, helping train college students for ministering to their
campuses. A key influence in my life was Paul Byer, who led "Bible manuscript studies",
a inductive group study methodology focused on in-depth interaction with a
Scripture text, undistracted by commentaries, footnotes, and other apparatus
(there's a nice summary here: More
recently, i've thought about that approach, and how much more we can do
today with networked, hyperlinked, digital information, instead of just
paper and colored pencils. But the goal is the same: we come to God's Word
so that we might know God Himself, and be transformed by His renewing our
minds (Rom 12:2).

Manuscript studies were pretty intense affairs: for summer camps, we would spend a week (6 days, about 6 hours each day) just studying the first 8 chapters of Mark's Gospel. Another week would be devoted to the second half of the book. Someone asked Paul once how long it took him to prepare for such a detailed study, and his answer was instructive. "Everything i've done in my life has added to my knowledge and understanding", he said, "so I suppose you could say it's taken my whole life to prepare me for this." I feel the same way about my current interest in semantic annotation of the Scriptures: it's taken my whole life to bring me where i am today, and i never could have predicted it. If anything, i take that as evidence of God's hand at work.

My earliest training in linguistics came from Wycliffe Bible Translators,
and i've been strongly affected by their vision of making God's Word
available to all in the language of their heart. While i'm not
occupationally involved in the work of Bible Translation, i'd like to do
what i can to contribute to that goal.