During the last three months, we completed the final preparatory steps and put online our twenty-first language section, West Punjabi. This now completes fulfilling His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s wish to reach out to the Muslim community in their own languages and share with them his message of religious harmony and basic human values
Our main focus, however, during these months has been on creating an intranet system for the internal use of our 130-member team to facilitate our workflow management. Once completed and implemented, the intranet will enable us to process more efficiently all that will be involved with the preparation and maintenance of the next version (3.0) of the Berzin Archives website.
So far, we have completed automating the procedures for venting and accepting new volunteers. Having interviewed the editors of our most active language sections to learn of the strong and weak points of our present system, we have narrowed down the choice of intranet platforms that can meet our requirements. We need a project management tool for document exchange, recordkeeping, team communication, automated invoices, and automatic easy-to-automate reports. The intranet platform must also be able to incorporate the extensive list of answers to questions regarding words and passages in the website articles as well as the documentation found presently in our internal wiki and must also be able to function as a berzinarchives email server. Shortly, we shall enter our data into the most promising platform and test it with one of our language teams, tweaking the system in accord with their experience or choosing another platform to test in case this first choice proves inadequate.
In addition, also based on the user survey we conducted within our language teams, we are starting to compile the modifications we will need for improving the usability of our present glossary tool. The glossary tool is an extensive 21-language database compiled and used by the translators and editors of our various teams for maintaining consistency of terminology and spelling of proper names. It also automatically generates the online glossaries found on our website.
As you can see, we are methodically laying the foundation and building the structures that will enable us to meet the growing needs of the users of our Berzin Archives website so that we can continue to make the wisdom of Tibet available to all. Thank you for your continuing support that makes this all possible.
Work on expanding the content of the various language sections of the Berzin Archives website has been continuing at a fast rate over these last three months. We have put online our twentieth language section, Persian, and have completed translating and editing all the material necessary for starting our next language section, West Punjabi. The final steps for putting this section online will now begin.
Our project developer and web analyst has now moved to Berlin and we have added a technical writer to our Berlin-based staff. With this expanded technical team, we have begun making an in-depth analysis of our present work-flow protocols and compiling a handbook containing detailed documentation of all the procedures involved. This is in preparation for increasing the efficiency of our web management system and for choosing a computer data base that might automate some of these processes. The aim is to free me of some of the administrative and managerial functions I now perform so that I can focus more on expanding the English content of the website.
As part of the planning phase for the upgrade version of the website, we have continued with user research and analytics through our online survey for improving its usability. We have also undertaken research and analysis of other similar websites to ascertain their strong and weak points, also for helping to optimize the usability of the upgrade version.
On May 14, I met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Frankfurt and reported the progress that has been made on the website project. I then outlined the plans for the upgrade version that will transform the website into an interactive educational tool, offering massive open online courses (MOOC) in a variety of languages. His Holiness was extremely supportive and advised on further topics to include on the website.
The Tibetan tradition holds a vast treasure of knowledge, especially concerning the workings of the mind and emotions. As the guardian of this treasure, His Holiness the Dalai Lama always stresses the importance of sharing this knowledge with the world through educational programs. When combined with the findings of modern science, the wisdom of Tibet can contribute great benefit to the world. With your ongoing support, we can continue to play a role in fulfilling the promise of this enlightened vision.
Work on our Berzin Archives web site has been proceeding at a fast rate. During the last three months, we have added online our eighteenth and nineteenth language sections: Hindi and Tibetan. The addition of these new sections helps us to fulfill two great wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. These are to repay the kindness of India to have transmitted the Buddhist teachings to Tibet, and to make available the Buddhist teachings to the widespread Tibetan exile community and help preserve the Tibetan language among them.
The Persian section is in the final stages of web production and within a few weeks should come online. As a growing number of young people in Iran wish to broaden their knowledge and contact with the wider world, we hope that by bringing them the Dalai Lama’s message of religious harmony and peace, it will be of benefit to the larger Iranian society. Work on the Western Punjabi section is also coming along nicely and recently we started work on a Korean section – language number 22! Each year, a growing number of Koreans have been visiting Dharamsala in India to receive special teachings from the Dalai Lama. This section will bring His teachings to an even greater number of interested people in Korea.
An itemized list of the work that we have accomplished during these three months is attached to this report.
During these three months, we also have put online our Arabic glossary and implemented the pop-up window feature to provide definitions in Arabic for the Buddhist terms in the online Arabic articles. This will help clarify the material for those for whom the material of the website is all new. To organize more efficient use of our web glossary tool so that we can provide similar online glossaries and the pop-up window feature for our other web-site languages, we have recently hired a web glossary coordinator.
The preliminary findings from the diagnostics, analytics, and user questionnaire we asked our Facebook followers to fill out have provided good insights for helping us prepare the new 3.0 version of the website. Based on our findings, and in consultation with an information architect, we are now asking users of the most frequented language sections of the web site – English, Spanish, German and Russian – to help us with a survey of how they use the web site, its strong and weak points, and their suggestions for improvements and new features. Based on analysis of the data collected, we will be able to design improved layouts of the website for further user testing.
With your continuing help, we shall make even greater advances in sharing the wisdom of Tibet to the world.
The most exciting new development of the last three months is our hiring of a Project Developer to begin work on the 3.0 version of the Berzin Archives web site, www.berzinarchives.com. This upgrade will transform the web site from primarily a reference source to a modern online educational tool. We hope to be able to provide, in each of our language sections, individualized study programs that will suit the interests and needs of each user. We also hope to make full use of the enormous opportunities that the fast-growing range of social media offers for reaching as wide an audience as possible.
Preparation of the upgrade will be a long and challenging process, but we have taken the first step. We are presently conducting an extensive diagnostic of the current use of the web site and analyzing the data to determine how to optimize access and use of its current functions. I shall keep you informed as this exciting adventure unfolds.
In addition to this new development, we have continued working to expand the content of the Berzin Archives web site in almost all of our language sections, as well as in our audio and video departments. You can read all the details in the attached file. In addition to the current seventeen languages online and three in preparation (Hindi, Tibetan and Persian), we have begun work on our twenty-first language, Western Punjabi. This is the form of Punjabi used in Pakistan and written in the Arabic script. We have added this language at the strong request of our Urdu translator, who pointed out that although Urdu is the official language of Pakistan, studied by almost everyone in the country, it is the mother tongue of only 7% of the population. Punjabi is, in fact, the most widely spoken language there. Worldwide, it is the native language of over 100 million people. Therefore, in keeping with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s encouragement to reach out to the Muslim world, we are happy to add this audience to our goal of “Making the Ageless Wisdom of Tibet Available to All.” Thank you for your continuing support in making this possible.
With your kind ongoing support, we have continued to make great progress with the Berzin Archives project (www.berzinarchives.com). During the last three months we have added online our sixteenth and seventeenth language sections: Mongolian and Japanese. The statistics and details of what we have accomplished during these months are attached to this report.
We have continued preparation of the next language sections for the web site: Tibetan and Hindi, and have begun preparation of a Persian section. We have been able to secure a Persian team as the direct outcome of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to the Roshan Center for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland. There he delivered “The Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace” and participated in “A Meeting of Two Oceans: Dialogue on Sufism and Buddhism.” Transcripts of both lectures are now available on our web site: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/world_today/anwar_sadat_lecture_for_peace.html and http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/study/islam/general/meeting_of_two_oceans.html.
Our web developer has constructed these three next language sections and programmed our content management system to handle the fonts for these scripts and display them on all browsers and operating systems. Our technical team is currently developing a program to optimize treatment of all the non-Roman scripts of the site.
Our Arabic team has completed work on an Arabic-English glossary with Arabic translations of the definitions of the terms and this is newly online. As with the English section, pop-up windows with the definitions of these terms appear in the Arabic articles when the reader passes the cursor over the terms.
Work is continuing strongly on the transcription of the audio files of my weekly courses. We have now completed transcribing and proofreading 185 of the 379 audio files currently online. In preparation for also putting these transcripts online, once they have been copyedited, our web developer has integrated these audio files from their previous podcast status into our content management system and reformatted them accordingly.
In addition, our web developer has upgraded our content management system to the latest version and optimized many of its features to increase efficiency. We have also migrated the web site to a larger main server, added a second backup server, and expanded our security measures. With this increased efficiency, we hope to make even more of the “Wisdom of Tibet Available to All.”
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