The Belief Genome: an open source technology startup

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You know the Human Genome project. Well, this is the Belief Genome project. Instead of mapping genes, Sidian Jones is mapping beliefs—across ages, genders, and geographies. He says that beliefs are what makes us tick. They are how we move about in the world and the why to our decisions. Indeed, from what we're eating for lunch to who we're voting for in the next election, our beliefs affect our lives. And because they can be identified—some basic, some complex, some grouped into systems and religions—they can be mapped.

Belief Genome™, described as an "open source technology startup", aims to map all human beliefs. The prototype code is already available to the public on Github, however there's still a lot of development to be done.

Two main functionalities:

  • to track and compare data
  • to serve as a platform for discovery and analysis

Two main audiences:

  • generate and satisfy curiousity in the general population
  • assist anthropologists and other scientists around the world

From Sidian Jones, project founder:

Belief Genome can be viewed as an intersection between technology and spirituality as it uses contemporary tools to track and gain insight about our deeper ideas of life and the universe, but it is also a platform for scientific understanding of sociological, psychological, and theological data. We really want to know and understand what makes us as human beings do what we do. Some explore outer space; we explore inner space.

To Jones, open source is an ideology focused on personalization. He says it is paramount for an open source project to be free of cost and transparent. In his company, The Open Source Religion Network, a company dedicated to housing products and services with open source ideologies in religion and spirituality, and in his own life, he believes in open source methodology as it relates to technology and religion. 

He uses the phrase "open source religion" and explains it further here:

I'm proposing that in this day and age there is a massive movement of people who are "modularizing" beliefs. What this means is that religions no longer have a strict homogeneity of beliefs, but rather are being treated as sources from which to draw ones beliefs, even across multiple religions.

Imagine 100 years ago someone saying that they are a "Christian with Buddhist leanings." That was practically unheard of. There was strict boxing of what beliefs belong with what group. These days it's common to know of or be someone who believes in both "salvation through Jesus" and "Karma."

To me, Belief Genome is a natural emergence from this kind of thinking. We are living in the age of Open Source Religion, and Belief Genome is the first tool for us to utilize this new paradigm.

Going forward, it's how our beliefs connect and interrelate, how they 'map out', that Jones believes will drive traffic to the site and participation to the project.

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Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.

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