OpenBible.info, whose blog I am now watching with interest, was mentioned by Sean at Blogos. I want to write about it in two ways, though given that this is likely to be the busiest week of my year, briefly ;-) First the wow response to what you can already do with the data and then a brief reminder of why this is really important.
OpenBible.info offers us lists of places mentioned in the Bible with associated with their locations. Or as OB's first post (kind of the opposite of the "Last Post"?) puts it, answering the question "Why this site?":
Simple. It’s weird that no one’s ever collected basic biblical data—such as the locations of all the places in the Bible—into an accessible format.
What this means now is a series of small files you can plugin to Google Earth (the post "How to Add KMLs to Google Earth" explains how) and double click to zoom to places mentioned in the Bible. So I started with Amos 1, and away I went.... I wonder could I record Google Earth animations of swooping from one tro another of the places in the Oracles against the Nations in chs.1-2, that could be fun and interesting... Meanwhile here's one that pictures the phrase "from Dan to Beersheba" ;-)
Now, having got the "wow" out of the way for a few minutes, here's why it is really important. This data, linking place names with locations has been collected, and made available under a Creative Commons licence. Which means that as long as they attribute the data people can correct it, and reuse it in new ways in new applications... Sean explains it well with lots of detail, so if you can't instantly see why this is significant read the post!
Scholars are inveterate examiners of the standards of dentistry in complimentary equines. So, I'll note that on the OpenBible.info front page their goal is expressed like this, to present: "The location of every identifiable place mentioned in the Bible." Now, inevitable there are many judgement calls in such a list. Is Tell es-Seba`the biblical Beersheba? Or Tell es-Safi Gath? The fact that this data has been presented under a CC licence means that someone can produce a more cautious list, or a more adventurous one, depending on their needs and the use they plan for the data.
Data is used to grow knowledge, and knowledge can be used to develop understanding... BUT if the data is held in proprietary formats it can only be used by some privileged people... So, not merely "Wow!" but also grateful thanks for a fine job begun...