The Great Refactoring of 2020

Hi friends, I just synthesized my learnings from 2020 in this post. This is one place you’ll see how the different threads of CDX connect into a possible vision for the future :slight_smile:

There’s an outline so you can jump to the sections that interest you. I’d love to hear your questions, ideas and feedback!

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I loved your description of what a “spatial software” version of the Bible might look like. It painted a vivid picture in my head I wanted to share; even though I think it is much different from what you were actually proposing.

I pictured a grand library built with lofty curved ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows. The floor is wide and very very long; it is marble with the text of the bible edged into the stone. Along the sides of this hall are tall bookshelves with books filled with the wisdom of the saints throughout history; each shelf containing books, excerpts, commentaries and sermons which illuminate the nearby scripture. At the end of each bookshelf is a large marble pillar supporting the roof with many other scriptures engraved upon it which reference or shadow the scripture on the floor. Small placards to the side note the chapter and verse numbers as well as any footnotes. Within the hall are Christians standing on and immersing themselves in the word of God. They are either quietly reflecting or are discussing the nearby text with someone close by. Sometimes someone will get up and preach on or explain a text. Those surrounding them can encourage them louder or hush them quieter so more or less people can hear them. Those who wish to read that text in silence or join a different discussion can move through the bookshelves to another identical grand hall running in parallel. The library contains as many of these grand halls as needed for those who are within at any given time. The stain glass, artwork, texts, engravings, signs, architecture, etc all referencing and pointing to the central scripture running along the floor; adding awe to the viewer for the fullness of God’s providence and wisdom as well as the witness of the Church through all time and all places and all languages.

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What beautiful imagery!!!

The thing is, why CAN’T we employ the technologies available to us to convey and share ideas and images like this? I imagine the power of replicating cathedrals and sacred sites in VR. Not to replace the physical locations but share them with more people all over the world. It feels “impossible” but why wouldn’t the church be a group to celebrate and support technology to grow in that direction?

Or maybe it’s a text-based adventure in the style of old DOS games. There’s a whole slice of gaming culture that would GO CRAZY for well-executed adventures like that.

Wow, that actually really inspired me and got me fired up haha! I hope you’ll share more as God inspires you. Is this something you would ever love to see in VR? Or maybe some other medium?

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I love the vision @jonathansanford and imagine if we could physically build such a space!

One side note related to the spatial software concept. I graphed out the books of the Bible by number of words:

They look kind of like mountains! Who wants to hike the “enchantments” of Scripture? :wink:

It was interesting the feel the “weight” of the old testament this way and to clearly see similarities between books in their length and location. We’re applying some of these concepts to the concept art/prototypes right now. I’m noodling on your vision as well to see what could make sense in the infinite canvas space we were working with.

Susan, I was reminded when talking to Chris of Exodus 36:1-7 where God stirs the hearts of his people to apply their skill and their possessions to build the tabernacle. I don’t think such a vision is “impossible”; especially with the great and generous God we serve. Much greater though than we can accomplish through our own individual efforts.

Chris, as I thought more about my picture and about using spatial / visual cues to help orient where you are within the greater text I came to a similar idea. What if anywhere the word “tree” was in the Bible there was a beautiful tree next to? What if the story of the Ten Commandments wound itself around a great mountain? Or if the Red Sea parted for the story of the Israelites fleeing Egypt? And what if you could “fly” to zoom out to survey the landscape and descend back into the hall where you wanted to read? Care would need to be taken that the theatrics don’t distract from the text itself but done right could help orient and inspire participants. I think the goal would be awe for God and His word; and a deeper understanding therein.

Something like the Bible Project might be a good resource or inspiration (they have a whole resource on trees in the Bible). I am also trying to track down a visual from my pastor on how the books of the OT fit together historically that might be a good guiding principle for the organization of halls.

Oh, I agree! And yes, I’ve been looking through the Bible Project’s resources a lot lately. They are doing some really beautiful and innovative work.


Excuse my poor drawing skills; just getting some more images / thoughts out on what this could look like. There could be doors with related scriptures on them which teleport to the respective hall for that scripture. There could be desks which you can collect scripture and texts and other media on as a form of organizing your personal or group notes which can be saved and recalled at any of the desks throughout the library. There could be windows looking out on landmarks which somehow tie into the general section of scripture you are in (per my previous comment). I was picturing avatars as circle heads with wispy incorporeal bodies.

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How does audio play into this? Can we bring in soft music or scripture reading (e.g. what the Dwell app provides)? Users should have control on how much environmental, social and media volume they receive (but how to not make that clunky?). We should probably have visual cues on avatars to communicate how much they can hear their environment so other users don’t try talking to someone who can’t hear them (e.g. by showing headphones on their avatar). Maybe volume control can be a combination of a mute switch and smart (directional?) audio mixing based on focus (you hear more of what you are looking at).

As for desks; we would need settings to control who can edit or even view the content you are curating on a desk. Is it personal or for a group? Can others outside you / the group see your content or not? Again visual cues could be helpful to indicate an avatar is viewing something you can’t also see (e.g. sunglasses?).

These are all great ideas. Jonathan, I wonder if you’d mind if I copy/paste these posts to a new “Development” thread? I think this is an idea we could legitimately develop or at least get developers talking about and it will be clearer if it has its own thread (and be easier for me to direct Twitter/Facebook traffic here).

Good idea. Feel free to start a new thread and copy / paste as you see fit.

Do we have a name for this concept? Is it the “medieval library” that we might use as the name for a new thread?

Tying in the thoughts from my article and yours, I think there’s something to be said for being “embodied” in a virtual space, whether its in the VR style of “Second Life” or the cartoon style of “Among Us” or even Google maps marker of one’s location. It also makes me think about how people move in the virtual space? Is it the mouse cursor, a touch on a location, keyboard/wasd, eye tracking, something else? And is sound projected into the space or is it an ambient property of the environment too?

I agree; embodiment is crucial regardless of how abstract, cartoony or “real” the environment is. I think spatial audio (you hear louder / closer things more) is also a huge way to enable sub conversations and atmosphere.

As for naming I don’t like “medieval” because that limits the inspiration to only one time period. “Grand Library” or “Grand Library of the Bible” is more what I was thinking since the focus is on provoking awe in the Creator through His word and the works of His people throughout time.

As for movement, and even for the fidelity with which the virtual library is presented (e.g. 2D vs 3D vs VR, lofi vs hifi), I think it can be open to whatever the user is comfortable with and their platform supports. I really like movement controls of The Witness for iOS; touch where you want to go (even far away) and it walks you there at a normal (or running) pace. For other platforms you can also use wasd or controller to move. I can see this extended even more to typing in a verse reference (e.g. John 3:16) and your avatar automatically finding a path and walking there. This would help convey the size of scripture and even sometimes take you through unexpected unrelated scripture on the way to your destination.