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A Vision for the Christian Social Graph
Just as the Facebook Social Graph provides a technical standard for mapping billions of people and objects on the Internet, similarly the goal of the Christian Social Graph is to establish an open directory of all the objects on the Internet that may be of interest to Christians.
Many people identify the current development of the web into three stages. Web 1.0, which consists mainly of static websites. Web 2.0, which is the social web, and is based on user contributed content on sites like YouTube, Facebook, Blogs and Twitter. Now, Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web, is now developing what many are calling Web 3.0, or the Semantic Web.
The goal of the Semantic Web is to make data on the Internet readable by computers to enable computers and devices to respond to complex requests. A recent demonstration by Apple for their Siri feature of the iPhone asked the phone, “Who is taller, Lebron James or Kobe Bryant?” The phone responded, “Lebron James appears to be slightly taller.” The phone was able to do this because it was able to recognize those names as basketball players and then look up their height in a database. That is just one example of the millions of possibilities with the Semantic Web.
The goal of the Christian Social Graph is to make data of interest to Christians openly machine readable as a part of the Semantic Web. One could imagine a day where someone could ask Siri on their iPhone, “Find me an evangelical church that has contemporary worship and kids programs.” Then it could provide a list of churches that meet those criteria. I might be able to tell Siri, “I want to attend a church small group within 10 miles of my house that is studying the Gospels on Tuesday or Wednesday night.” Siri could then come up with a listing of all the church small groups meeting those criteria.
While this may seem very futuristic, the real question is how we build the Christian Social Graph to make that possible. At TechMission we have started to build the Christian Social Graph with the objects shown in the diagram linked below. The most obvious “objects” to be a part of the Christian Social Graph is to provide a comprehensive directory of churches and parachurches. Then we can then map Christian volunteer, missions and job opportunities as well as small groups and events to those organizations. We currently have about 11,000 Christian volunteer/missions opportunities, 6,000 Christian jobs and 15,000 organizations. In the next year, we expect to expand this to include most churches and parachurches in the USA.
We provide this data through our open Christian Social Graph API (an interface for programmers) so that they can incorporate the data into their apps and websites. We have already secured 20+ partners who are both contributing and reusing data. We view the Christian Social Graph as something that will be built by thousands of Christian organizations and individuals contributing and reusing data. In building the Christian Social Graph, we hope that it will enable each Christian to be better connected with the needs and resources to maximize their calling on earth.
For more information visit: http://www.christianvolunteering.org/apiaccess.jsp and http://www.slideshare.net/techmission/christian-social-graph-v2.