Not a process blog…an epiphany blog!

I stayed a bit late after class today helping a classmate navigate URT, and I realized that I LOVE DATABASES. Had I known beforehand, I would have signed up for the database class! I was incredibly nervous about this project before I really got my hands on URT. I was ready to change my topic, abandon all hope, ect., but once I started plugging away on URT everything fell into place. During the paper-prototyping class, I was working with all my data as one layer, but after speaking with Rory he pointed out that I could very easily pull-apart that data and create a second layer; that second layer made all the difference.  I could see the form of my map, how the data would fall into place, and where the holes in my data were. Now the task is getting the information to fill those holes, but I’m feeling pretty comfortable letting the map inform me rather than trying to force things into the map.

I now have three layers: a reference layer, a mappable objects layer, and a media layer. The reference layer is just the shows I am working with, it is essentially a glorified playbill. The second layer is where the more academic work is being done, where I will examine broadway’s interpretation of New York. There will be some media in this layer, but only pictures pertaining to exact locations. The media layer will also deal with interpretations of New York, but interpretations without a specific geographic location-things like how both Newsies and West Side Story reference being a “king of New York,” significant in the general treatment of New York but not mappable the way Oliver Warbucks’ 5th Ave. mansion is mappable.

This epiphany should not come as a total surprise to me as I work in higher education administration and a huge part of what I do is database work — everything from filemaker pro to propriety systems used by specific universities. I’ve never really been bothered by being a “data monkey” because there is a lot more to it that just entering information. The database doesn’t just organize the information, it makes the information functional. You can use it to do things, which is really the essence of this project. We’ve spoken a lot about maps/databases/data-models and where they do and do not coincide, but I think this epiphany has landed me firmly  on the side of map-as-database. If I had even the remotest bit of computer-science skill I think I would happily work on the design end of databases. However, for now I think I am pretty happy just being a user.

1 Comment

  • Sure an encouraging post, Robin! It’s often when we’re teaching someone else that our own understanding comes into sharp relief.

    It’s fantastic to hear that you’re now sufficiently familiar with the logic of the map — and the database — to allow it to guide your work.