Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Got stuff? A visual

THE BIG SUMMER PROJECT is implementing archives management software, which (we hope!) will make it easier to describe, find and update our inventories of "stuff." One of the things that has to be done as part of this is figuring out what to call things. For example, the Doheny Mansion is frequently referred to as "No. 8" (its address on Chester Place). But which is correct? Humans understand they're the same, but computers aren't that smart. We have to agree on one expression.

Working on that, we decided to take all our inventories, extract the text descriptions and dump them together into a "word cloud" generator. The color blob at the top is the result.

It's interesting how it really does zero in on the the most important subjects in the Mount Archives. But where is Chalon?

It's just a given, something that is so obvious it doesn't require naming. Thus, there are few occurrences of the name "Chalon" for the word cloud algorithm to work with. Think of it as "everything that is not Doheny."

On the other hand, "Doheny" shows up a lot to differentiate it from what was called the "main campus" for a long time.

We're not sure why "Committee" is so prominent, except in almost 90 years of history there have been a whole lot of them. That tells us that describing meeting agendas and minutes are an important topic in planning our database.

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