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Wikipitaka

Completing Tipitaka

Summary

Wikipitaka© is an attempt to compile and complete an English translation of the Tipitaka, the Buddhist sacred scripture, and its commentaries in order to enable complete features of online text: searching, browsing, linking, instant editing as well as looking up terms in an online dictionary.

Unmet Needs

  • While Buddhism is the third largest world’s religion, there is no complete online English translation of the Tipitaka.
  • There is absolutely no online commentary of the Tipitaka
  • While searching is what make electronic text distinct, the existing online Tipitaka’s are not searchable.
  • Terminology used in the existing translations of the Tipitaka are diverse, hard to comprehend.
  • Terminology used in the Tipitaka are in Pali-Sanskrit, and readers of the Tipitaka usually encounter difficulty in understanding them.

Uniqueness

  • Searchability
  • Standardized translation
  • Double-click popup dictionary
  • Wiki format which allows users to participate in the process of completing (building) the Tipitaka, which is considered the supreme merit by Buddhists
  • Expanded scripture: Wikiptaka© is the first and the only web service that provides an expansive feature of the Tipitaka: different translations, commentaries, exegeses, interpretations, historical significances, discussions, dictionary, and encyclopedia.
  • Strong connection with Buddhist authorities in Thailand as well as Buddhist scholars at a leading institution such as Stanford Center for Buddhist Study

Management Team

Chief Executive Officer

Web Administrators

Web Administrators creates and maintains webpages.

Customer Care

Customer Care responds to e-mail from users, observe users’ behavior, summarize, and propose a development plan to the CEO.

Academic Committee

  1. Scripture Specialists
  2. Language Specialists
    1. Primary Languages: Pali-Sanskrit
    2. Secondary Languages: Thai (Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Laos, Mongolian, Sinhalese, and Tibetan)
    3. Target Languages: English (French, German, Italian, etc.)
  3. Culture-History Specialists

These specialists can be recruited from two resources:

  1. Buddhist scholars in Buddhist Universities, Pali-Sanskrit schools, and Buddhist temples

This group can be reached through special connections with administrative figures in the institutions such as presidents and abbots. For instance:

    1. We have been in touch with the Director of Wat Bowonniwet Vihara Pariyatti School (Thailand’s oldest School of Buddhist Learning) for nine years, since one of our management team members was ordained under his supervision.
    2. We are a good friend of some Ph.D. students in Sanskrit at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University.
    3. We have a strong connection with the webmaster and the abbot of Dhammakaya Foundation, a large and affluent Buddhist institution.
  1. Active and knowledgeable Wikipitaka© members

If Wikipitaka© gets so large that it cannot be administered by the standing management team alone, there must be sufficiently large number of members of members. The CEO, upon suggestion of Academic Committee, will communicate with some active members of the community and invite them to join the Academic Committee and/or Web Administrator team. They can serve in the course of one year or a quarter.

Our Goal

Size

Because the goal of Wikipitaka© is to emulate other online sacred scriptures, such as The Qur’an and The Bible, the basic goal is to reach the same, if not greater, number of users (customers) proportionate to the religious population.

According to one of the online Qur’an websites, “Kor’an”, it reaches the total number of users of 126,814 (as at 10:42 pm PST, May 3, 2006) within 5 months (December 3, 2005-May 3, 2006). That is, on average, 25,363 users visit the site monthly. This is in comparison with one of the (few) existing online Tipitaka websites, “Tipitaka Online”, whose number of users reaches 616,633 (as at 10:44 pm PST, May 3, 2006) in 8 years (May 15, 1998-May 4, 2006), with the average of 6,423 visitors a month. We see that the number of monthly users of “Kor’an” is four times greater than that of “Tipitaka” wile the total number of Islam followers is only twice as big as the number of Buddhism followers. Using Kor’an website as a standard (this website won “Best Islamic Site Award”), we aim our target size (as in 2006) to at least 13,000 users a month.

Other Online Tipitaka Websites

Existing Websites

There are just a handful of online Tipitaka websites (as listed below). None of which allows searching which is the key feature in an electronic text. Also, none of which has a complete, standardized translation of the Tipitaka. Also, most of them are rarely updated.

List of existing online Tipitaka:

  1. Accesstoinsight.rog: one of the most complete, reliable collection of Pali Canon, put together by
  2. Tipitaka Online: A translation from Burmese Tipitaka by Dr. Maung M. Lwin. Starting eight years ago, it is still an ongoing attempt to complete the translation. The website uses yahoo e-mail list as a discussion forum, yet there has been no respond from other member beside Dr. Lwin himself recently. We doubt that this attempt will succeed before our project.
  3. Metta.lk: The collection contains Pali, Sinhala, and English translations. The English collection is by various authors often downloaded from the Internet.
  4. Tipitaka.com: a complete Thai translation.
  5. Palikanon.com: an incomplete Spanish translation.

Potential Websites

Although it is always possible for anyone to startup a new website of a similar kind, we firmly believe that at the moment there is no such an attempt. Because this is not a particular popular moment for Buddhism, yet a peak period for startup internet companies, and most of the Buddhist followers are in the countries with low internet accessibility, it is unlikely that any other potential competitor would come up with the same idea at the moment.

Secret Sauce

  1. Complete Features of an Online Text: such as search, browse, link, addition, edition and discussion.

The Wikipitaka© will be linked to an existing Dictionary of Buddhism, such as Andover-Harvard Library’s Dictionary of Buddhism or Stanford-subscribed Encyclopedia of Buddhism.

With client-side internet technology, users can simply double-click on the text to search the dictionary which appears on a new, popup page.

  1. Expansive Canon: Wikiptaka© is the first and the only web service that provides an expansive feature of the Tipitaka: different translations, commentaries, exegeses, interpretations, historical significances, discussions, dictionary, and encyclopedia. Because in reality, there are several texts that attach to or elaborate on the Tipitaka, but these “secondary” texts are not yet online.

Under each sutta page, there will be five tabs (or links) for Original Pali Text, Commentary, Significance, Interpretation, and Discussion Forum. With help of users, we can complete this expansion very soon.

File:Sitemap

  1. Standardized Translation: Academic Committee will unify all diverse, confusing translations by linking ambiguous terms to their Pali roots—a solution only possible by information technology of a search engine.

For example, the term dukkha is usually translated as “suffering” but some translators prefer using “stress” or “discomfort” instead. The solution Wikipitaka© offers is to link all of the variation back to its root dukkha and make the search engine recognize any variation of it as the root dukkha.

  1. Inclusiveness—More User Involvement: Users get to take an active role in the web space. By the nature of a wiki, it opens up for people to edit, add, or erase any of the texts. This will make users feel as if they were a part of the community and continue using the website. Because of this openness, Wikipedia have more than two billion pages within five years, and we hope to succeed with this policy as well.

Key Assumptions

  1. Internet Penetration: We assume that by the time we launch Wikipitaka©, the internet penetration in major Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, and China will be high enough to allow enough Buddhist scholars to access the website and join the community.
  2. Users’ Willingness to Share their Knowledge: Like Wikipedia, the success of Wikipitaka© has to depend on users’ participation. We will post a famous Buddhist aphorism: “Among all charity, charity of knowledge is the greatest” to emphasize the importance of this project and appeal to Buddhist practitioners to seek a way to accumulate good karma even in the Cyber World.
  3. Credibility: Although the purpose of Wikipitaka© is to provide the most complete and accurate translation of the Tipitaka, some skeptics can always criticize the lack of central authority and thus the credibility of the translation. However, there is no better way to defend ourselves than letting the truth prove itself, like the case of Wikipedia.

Target Customers

This website will best serve the interest of scholars as well as practitioners of Buddhism. As a complete, searchable online Pali Canon, Wikipitaka© will provide Buddhist scholars a powerful tool to explore and analyze the text. The main target group is not western scholars but rather Buddhist scholars in major Buddhist countries. This includes Burma, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, and Vietnam. In these countries, Buddhism has about 376 million followers (Wikipedia). By estimation, 0.1 percent of Buddhist is considered scholars who would find Wikipitaka© useful. That is, the number of users of Wikipitaka© is estimated to be 376,000.

Penetration and Access of the Target Users

Even though Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world (Wikipedia), most of the Buddhist Scholars are in developing countries where internet access is not so common (as in 2006). Also, most of the Buddhist scholars live an ascetic life style and might not have an access to the Internet. Thus, most of the target users might not be able to access the website in 2006.

Yet, in Thailand for example, monks and nuns have increasingly become technologically aware as the number of Buddhist websites maintained by practitioners and monks increases significantly during 2000-2005. Because the number of internet users in monastery settings is proportionate to the total number of internet users in Thailand, Wikipitaka© will be successful when the internet usage reaches a level at which the people accept it as a daily activity.

In “The Growth and Development of the Internet in the United States” by Martin Kenny in 2001, Kenny concludes that the factors that contribute to the rapid growth of the Internet are political economy of the telecommunications system, the willingness of Americans to order remotely, and the creation of an infrastructure centered upon venture capital meant to support hightechnology entrepreneurship. In Thailand, the government invests much of its spending into creating these conditions through its brand new Ministry of ICT (Information and Communication Technology). For example, high speed internet ADSL cost has been decreasing constantly since last year. This results in the dramatic increase in the number of ADSL users as well as the overall internet users. The strong support from the government results in the increase in national internet usage. As shown in Figure 2, the number of Thai internet users grows linearly ever year since 2000 and grows 266.1% in 2000-2005 (http://www.internetworldstats.com/). With the growth of high speed internet and the decrease in its cost, the number of internet users is estimated to increase exponentially in 2006 and the year beyond. With the expansion of the internet usage in Thailand and in other Buddhist countries alike, we can predict that within ten years, Buddhist scholars will have an access to the Internet, and Wikipitaka© can be accessed by every target user and participant. This means it is better to launch this project when the target community is ready, that is when most of the Buddhist scholars are familiar with the Internet and online research. This process can take five or ten years to come true. Product Plan:.

The Main Page is divided into three sections: About Wikipitaka© (mission statement and appeal to users), Announcement (new pages and features), and three links to the three chapters (pitaka) of the Tipitaka.

Search On every page, there is a search bar. Users can use this search bar to search for any specific terms or phrase in the Tipitaka as well as the accompanying pages. Search result ranks by percentage of relevancy. There is a separate list of Pali terms. These terms are linked to their possible translations, once a user search for a term in the list, the search engine will automatically search the website for all possible translations of the term as well as its variations. By this method, we can guarantee that the user will get every passage relevant to his or her keyword.

Dictionary Wikipitaka© can be link to an online Dictionary of Buddhism, and whenever a user double-click on a text, a dictionary search result of that word will popup on a separate window. Registration To edit an existing page or add a new page, users are required to register using their e-mail addresses. This process is kept easy to welcome newcomers. Engineering Plan:.

For the preliminary version, Wikipitaka© is hosted by www.editthis.info which uses MediaWiki software, the same software as Wikipedia. Although MediaWiki is not a WYSIWYG software, it allows more flexibility. For example, it allows users to make side bar, announcement tab, and table. We assume that users are accustomed to using Wikipedia, so it should be fairly easy to use Wikipitaka©. Also, we can always copy and paste codes from Wikipedia for a more fancy appearance. When the website gets bigger and more support gained, we plan to build a new website and move the website to the server of Dhammakaya Foundation. This move will increase the credibility of the website as it is hosted by a leading Buddhist institution. However, we might lose some control of the website. Sales Model and Marketing Outline:. In order to promote Wikipitaka©, we will ask all Buddhist websites to point a link to Wikipitaka©. Some potential websites are: - Stanford Center of Buddhist Study which we have a connection with its director, Prof. Zimmermann - Dhammakaya Foundation - Online Thai Tipitaka - Etc.Also, we will approach Thai Buddhist Universities to propose the use of Wikipitaka© in their English classrooms. This will be an excellent exercise in English lesson for monks and nuns. Costs:. Startup Cost - Founder’s opportunity costs: I expect to work on this project three hours a day for at least one year in the startup period. My estimated opportunity cost of $20,966.75 which accounts for: 1. $44,267 * (3/12) = $11,066.75: three hours out of twelve hours that I should be benefiting from the total tuition fee 2. $11/hr * 3 hrs/day * 300 days = $9,900: according to the payment rate of my job at Math and CS Library - Communication costs: Because the founder is in America while some of the Management Team members live in Thailand, there is a telecommunication cost of about $100 during the startup period. - Management Team’s opportunity costs: Because most of the Management Team members are in developing countries, their opportunity costs are lower. Also, because most of them are monks, they don’t have monetary opportunity costs at all. If there were some, it would be no more than $250. - Technology costs: All the servers that we will be using are free. So the only technology that we will pay for is the internet connection which is $300/mo * 12 months = $3,600 for High Speed DSL Service. - Total Startup Cost = $24,916.75 Maintenance Cost - Rough Estimation = 15% of startup cost = $24,916.75 * 0.15 = $3737.5/yr - Management Team’s opportunity costs - Marketing Cost (promotion and extension) Profitability:. In this context, there are two kinds of profits: merit (good karma) and monetary profit. Spiritual Benefit Merit can be gained every time any user uses or contributes to the website. This is a personal value. Revenue There are two ways Wikipitaka© can gain financial support:

  1. Donation
     There will be a donation button at the bottom of every page. A user who is not able to help directly can support Wikipitaka© by donating money through PayPal or through Bank Account.
  2. Sponsorship
     By the connection with Buddhist institutions, we are able to gain financial support from them, especially from a wealthy institute like Dhammakaya Foundation or Wat Bowonniwet Vihara. Also, we can request for support from Thai government and other Buddhist countries’ governments.

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