|A Global Mapping International Newsletter||Spring 1996|
Good news for missionaries, mission professors and students, mission administrators and supporters!
A computer software package for mission research has been produced and you do not have to be a computer buff or a professional researcher to use it. The 20:21 Library of Mission and Evangelism Resources has something for everyone interested in missions-the equivalent of more than 200 volumes of printed material.
Called 20:21 because of John 20:21 ("As the Father has sent me, so send I you"), this software is mission-oriented from top to bottom. Many mission organizations and research centers provided huge amounts of data and text to be shared in this way. For example, the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, provided the bibliographic records for every work that has been mentioned in the International Review of Mission since 1910 (over 60,000 items). Patrick Johnstone provided his book, Operation World, plus the database form of the statistics he used when he wrote the book.
The second CD includes virtually every map GMI has ever made (several hundred), among them are language maps for every country in the world. And there is commercial mapping software on the CD which allows users to edit existing maps or create new ones.
While we were testing the CD last year, we attended a conference on Theological Education in the Two-Thirds World at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. Prof. Ivan Satyavrata was there from India. He was just starting his Ph.D. research and had been unable to get to Cambridge University to use their computerized card catalog during his short time in England. He saw the demonstration of 20:21 and asked us if we could help him. The bibliographic search was fairly quick for the three key names and two key words he was researching. We gave him a print-out of the results.
In the old days, it would have taken him at least a couple of days to look up all five words in the indexes of each ten-year period of the International Review of Mission (1910-1990) plus the annual indexes for 1991-1995. Then he would have had to copy out by hand the references of anything useful he found, and even then he would have only searched that one journal, not the other bibliographies which are included with it on 20:21. That long series of steps is what every researcher and writer had to go through several times in order to find out what has already been written on any mission topic. Not any more. With 20:21 any student can do quickly even for a term paper what serious researchers used to take days to do.
One of the many annoying things about the information age is shopping for software. Which kind of mapping software? Which kind of bibliographic software? Which Bible software? Which hypertext system? etc. etc. I admit there are a few techies in the world who think software shopping is a recreational activity, but for the other 99.5% of the mission world, 20:21 does a huge service by combining several programs in one system and reducing the number of decisions one has to make. Of course it is not a perfect system that does everything for everyone, but it is an excellent starting point for a wide range of things you want to do with a computer.
As the opening screen of the software says, This is only the beginning. Now that the software exists and we have experience in converting materials of many kinds into it, the way is open to develop specialized CDs such as one on Africa, one on India, one on Islam, one on holistic ministry and development, etc. according to the wishes of GMI's friends and partners.
-- Stan Nussbaum
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