DDBC Celebrates the Tenth Anniversary of CBETA

Dharma Drum Buddhist College (DDBC) hosted a two-day international conference to celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the Chinese Buddhist Text Association (CBETA) and the great achievements in Buddhist scripture digitization over the years. The conference was held on 16-17 February 2008, at Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education in Jinshan Township, Taipei County.

Professional Buddhist scholars from countries such as United States, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Nepal and Norway gathered at the International Conference of the DDM World Center for this special event. This conference provided an excellent opportunity for scholars from all over the world to exchange information and discuss various ways to further advance in the digitization of Buddhist scriptures.

In his welcoming remarks, the President of DDBC and the Director of CBETA, Venerable Huimin, said that CBETA aims to deliver a digital collection of Chinese canonical scriptures that is comprehensive and easily accessible to scholars, researchers and general readers.

Venerable Huimin affirmed that CBETA would continue to strive for improvements in quality and accuracy of digitized contents as well as develop functionality rich applications that are user-friendly. CBETA 2008 version CD-ROM has already been released.

Dr. Lewis Lancaster, Professor of University of California Berkeley, said "The appearance of Buddhist cannons in electronic medium has transformed what was once merely theoretical and speculative into a practical and fundamental part of scholarly research. Digital text, dictionaries and tools available to users today provide the foundation for future developments and research."

Although CBETA has achieved some success in digitization research and development, there are still many challenges ahead. Venerable Bo-kwang Han from Dongguk University in South Korea said that one of the great difficulties facing digitization is how to deal with the limited number of Chinese characters available in Unicode format for publishing information on the internet. Venerable Bo-kwang Han has successfully carried out the pilot project for digitization of the Hanguk Bulgyo Chonso, a series of books collecting all kinds of Korean Buddhist manuscripts since 1999.

Other challenges include English-based User Interface, English-based keyword Search System and finding solutions to the compatibility issue between character graphic files and the extended special fonts developed and loaded in various words processors such as Microsoft Word.

At the Closing Ceremony, Dr. Ching-Chun Hsieh from the Taiwan's Academic Sinica presented a special report on the topic "Hope for the Lotus-A Technical Perspective on Digital Buddhist Systems", which raises awareness on the limitations of computers at present.

(Reported & Photos taken by Jin Yang/edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)

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