Etnopedia Team Articles Research Chatter

Is there a need for a central database of research projects?

This is the second part of questions posed to researchers for a missions conference. All major research efforts need to collaborate on a centralized list. I was told yesterday that we will never see collaboration happen between research efforts. I continue to keep the faith. We will reach many more peoples if we keep trying to make a few steps in that direction.
Proposition – Missiological researchers and mission organizations are often unaware of what research has already been done for a people group they are trying to reach.

This is a good reason why all major research efforts need to collaborate on a centralized list. I was told yesterday that we will never see collaboration happen between research efforts. I continue to keep the faith. We will reach many more peoples if we keep trying to make a few steps in that direction. Pray for our meeting scheduled in August to deal with this.

Question – Is there a need for a central searchable (and secure) database of research projects? Is anybody attempting this? How would you recommend the need be met?  Is there a need?

Yes, the love for Christ who loves the lost compels us. Many times we think about our database restrictions or organizational limitations when we need to think “what is best for the unreached peoples”. Also many times we set at tables and talk about building our databases on new technologies that 95% of the world can’t access — as if our perspectives and tools were primarily for our use. We forget that thousands of missionary candidates, agencies, young people and more importantly children need easy access to the information. We all know of the urgent need to get unreached people information into the hands of emerging missionary movements (in their languages) and yet we debate over database cross-referencing and technologies that are too hard to use or too slow for the average Internet user. I have a cuad core with high speed Internet access and still don’t look at kml data on Google earth. The Joshua Project did a survey on how to improve their website: see – I love their website, it is the best out there but it took me a while get used to the navigation. The researchers in Africa say they cant even load the JP site because its too heavy. There is a need and the need is primarily to non-westerners. I was born in the US so it hurts me to know that the greater need is for non-western participation in world missions.

Central List
The first step to getting a central list is major research effort collaboration. This is the only way we will know which peoples found on one database and not on another are real peoples. It is also the only way we will be able to keep up with newly identified peoples and languages. Lets not forget that socio-linguistic research is not finished yet. The SIL socio-linguistic researcher for China and Southeast Asia says there are 100 languages in China not in the Ethnologue. 

The alternate name issue is a huge challenge, but the database should be searchable. Many people groups have several alternate names and alternate language names and the language name is not the people name.

We have spent many hours discussing the security issue. Security is a problem only when we mention 1. Missionaries names. 2. Organizations targeting the people group and 3. Location data on groups of believers churches etc.

The “In progress scale” (yellow) presents some security risks. But the need to have the database open is much more important so that interested Christians have access to the information. We tried to lock down Etnopedia at its launch in 2006. We gave out 3,000 unique passwords and usernames to the Latin missionary movement. This failed and still today some think you need a password to enter Etnopedia.

After all our pondering we concluded that the “yellow” scales are already out there and available to the public. Or the majority of the enemies of the Cross probably already know of the groups of Christians in a small people group. Or we (Christian researchers) don’t know and should not know the whereabouts of those groups of Christians. AND we researchers should never put sensitive data it on any web server, secured or unsecured.  Etnopedia is the only project that has removed missionary and agency names from their information.

I have considered many times to only display reached (green) and unreached (red) in our project. I don’t think displaying “green” is much more a security risk than “yellow”.  Joshua Project, WCD and all display yellow/in progress data.

Etnopedia does not display in progress data on Bible translation status because of our agreement with SIL. This is also important.

Is anybody attempting this?
Etnopedia shows people groups that are on Joshua Project and not on CPPI/GSEC and vice-versa. Those groups do not appear on their respective projects. We also show field data for a few countries where groups were not accepted into those projects. More country level  field data is coming. 

How would you recommend the need be met?
I previously sent this in response to your first question. In sumary, we need to provide a place for a community to develop their own upg information. It needs to be in their language, fast, and in two clicks you are seeing people groups. We also need to put the Bible translation need right up front. It also needs an integrated prayer plan . See:

See examples of what we are working on here.
This page shows language, tribes and clans. e.g. Shabak is a clan.

Blessings to you brother! This is not an easy subject to deal with. But it is very valid and more important than any other time in history. We need to direct the future missionaries into unreached Bibleless peoples.