A Database for “One Idea”

I found the Powerpoint on Intro to Relational Databases and SQL fairly straightforward and informative. However, a large portion of “Why Databases?” was unclear without the author’s explanation. In an attempt to expand on the argument for databases in Digital Humanities, I’d like to propose a possible interpretation of the section so nicely decorated with Simpsons characters. As an introduction to the “One Idea” model, I wonder if the photos of the Table of Contents and Index represent inflexible data sets, an old model for cross-referencing that is static and limited compared to databases. The “One Idea” seems to be something that could be stored as a database or as a document, perhaps a research topic about which a scholar wants to gather and curate essays. The first contributor adds four essays to this document or database. The second contributor adds three essays, which become part of the curated information on the topic. The pattern continues until the “One Idea” includes 18 essays. If the essays and the data about them, including subject tags, are stored in a database rather than only in document files, it becomes possible through querying to pick out which essays meet certain additional criteria, in this case, perhaps those that reference Shakespeare’s works.  Using the database, this list of essays (generated by querying the subgroup Shakespeare) can also be sorted using other data attached to each essay, perhaps in this case the year the essay was written.  This allows for much more flexibility and useful searching in a digital archive than only links to documents provide. I’d be interested to hear other theories about this section, if anyone else was curious about its contribution to the overall argument.

2 thoughts on “A Database for “One Idea”

  1. Loren Springer

    I didn’t understand the Simpson’s characters thing so I’m glad you explained that.

  2. Matt Smith

    I, too, had much difficulty in deciphering the PowerPoint. I hope that the PowerPoint was a part of a conference or symposium and not a stand-alone piece. I am not entirely sure if the representation on the slide you’re referring to is connected to the PowerPoint on databases with birds as an example. I had a much easier time following along the process of how a database works with that longer, more fleshed-out visualization. With that being said, I still don’t really understand SQL. I have vague inklings of how it works based entirely on the examples given in that second PowerPoint, but divorced from that example I don’t think I’d be able to formulate a working understanding of how it truly works. I feel that, too often, these Digital Humanifestos ignore the part of their readership that requires a more substantial explanation of these concepts and how they actually operate on the (digital) ground.

Comments are closed.