Space Walk at Logos

Our guest blogger today is Dale Pritchett, co-founder of Logos Bible Software. And my father. But not in that order.

When I got back from the SBL meeting in Philadelphia I had this sense that Logos Bible Software had changed in some substantial but indefinable way. The demonstrations and conversations were of a different nature than the past. We have always demonstrated new titles and new features at conferences but yet somehow this year felt very different. As more and more people asked about my experience at the conference I began to sense why this conference was different. We at Logos had taken our first “space walk”.

Logos Bible Software has changed a lot over the years but it has always followed a simple formula of better and better computer enhancement of familiar manual tasks. You work with a paper library, you work with a digital library; familiar tasks refined and enhanced through innovative software. And now there is Logos Bible Software 3.0 and suddenly it is like “Star Trek” going where no man has gone before. It is like the first time man walked in space. There was no earthbound walking experience with which it could be compared. Space walking is a whole new experience with its own rules, equipment, challenges and rewards. This is the analogy I was looking for. Logos Bible Software 3.0 is like your first space walk.

For the first time, the software is not mimicking a manual process. There is no print-based equivalent to our new syntactical databases. There is no published printed edition of a Greek, Hebrew or English text with every clause identified and tagged. There are no preachers, teachers or Bible students searching for “functional” relationships as opposed to “form or morphological” tags. We have never had the ability to look up in a book, or for that matter, a Bible software program, the answer to the question, “Who or what is the object of God’s love?” Not only is such a functional search now possible, the results, though derived in the original languages, may be displayed in English as well as Greek and Hebrew. The amazing thing to me is that the most complex linguistic functionality that has ever been featured in Bible software will have immediate practical value to the English Bible student through the use of reverse interlinear Bibles which allow Greek and Hebrew search results to be accurately displayed in English, Spanish or any Bible for which we have a reverse interlinear edition.

This is a space walk.

The challenge ahead will be to describe the new features in Logos Bible Software 3.0 without the comforting analogies to manual systems. In trying to explain syntactical data bases to a user the other day I suggested that viewing syntax was like seeing the Bible in sentence diagrams with exposed subjects, verbs, objects, indirect objects, etc. Searching syntax would be like having the ability to circle a section of the diagram and look for other matching structures with or without the words attached to the diagram. That’s my best attempt so far in describing the concept. I will keep looking for analogies that help. This is the problem of space walking.

Comments

  1. John Fidel says:

    Hi Dale,
    Good to hear from you. You hit the nail on the head.. the challenge is in educating through demonstrations, videos etc. not just how these tools work, but why they are helpful. We need to learn how to incorporate them into our study.
    It is a challenge, but I know you folks are up to the task.
    John Fidel

  2. I have found as a software developer myself is that the best way to describe these types of features is by solving a problem that people can relate to. Let’s take your “Find all the objects of God’s love” problem. The issue you have before you is that people don’t even realize they have a problem because no one has ever thought it was possible to find such a thing. But if you could train people to open themselves to the *possibility* that this information exists and can be easily accessed, you will then train them to discover a “problem” that your software provides a solution for.
    In a few years, users of your software will be trained to think through these syntactic trees and will ask themselves countless questions about the nature of the document they are analyzing that will easily be solved through the “manual process” of clicking a few buttons. To me, that paradigm shift came about as a result of my mind opening up the possibility the software was creating.
    People don’t think in that type of abstract manner, so at a sales presentation, you start with the problem they never considered (the God’s love thing is most excellent) and show them the solution. That paradigm shift of all the possibilities is the “light bulb” moment you’ll get from your customers. The power users will realize it immediately. The trick will be getting it to your casual low-end user. But if you can come up with a common problem low-end users have (who don’t think abstractly about language very well), you’ll be on your way.
    My two cents, for whatever it’s worth.