David N. Snyder wrote:
It already exists:http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page
I am not sure how it works with copyright laws. I haven't checked it out much. Maybe the contributors are monks and lay teachers well-versed in Pali doing their own translations? Not sure, but it does sound like a very good idea.
I saw that site a while back and thought it was interesting. I've wondered exactly what they are using as their sources. I agree it's a good idea, and one that I'll definitely be checking back on in the future to see their progress.
That's a good sentiment, and I wish it was shared by all. However, lawsuits and DMCA complaints are a very real threat. People's passions often run high over religious matters, especially those which they may have invested a great deal of time or energy in. I've seen some Buddhists make threats of lawsuits over mere forum postings, so I have my doubts that just going ahead and copying works without permission would be smooth sailing.
I do think a central Buddhist database of all teachings (including Mahayana and Vajrayana), not just Theravada would be a great benefit. Also, formatting it so that usability is the main focus would be very important. A database isn't much use if people can't find what they are looking for easily. What I mean is something like guided paths or a user interface that tracks progress and could suggest related and relevant teachings to what you were studying at the moment. There's a lot of potential to innovate there, because nobody is really doing anything like that yet, at least none that I've found.
In addition, I think having audio and video translations of the texts would be good to add. For instance, if you were studying the Dhammpada and had to go somewhere, you could download the audio format of the chapter you were on (or the entire text) to your ipod and take it with you. When you get back to your computer, you could pick up right at the spot you left off without missing a beat. I am aware there are audio translations and a good number of videos out there, but they are all spread out and not organized in a way that is easiest to learn. What I'm talking about is making something that ties in all of that extra media to one place. One page where you can read the texts, listen to audio of it, or watch a video, see commentaries on it, etc. That along with some interface to help guide people through them, I think would help a lot of people. Something like that would have helped me out a lot, and probably would still help me now.
If I had more free time I'd be doing this instead of just talking about it. I have been thinking about selling my business and doing something like this full time, but that would leave me without an income, and I can not live on data alone... ah well, maybe someday.