Day 4 – Chemist and Druggist

Confession: we spent 3 minutes today watching a stop motion version of Paddington Bear dancing to ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’ Light relief?  Yes, but it came about from a discussion of issues facing our project – honest.

Bear with me (excuse the pun) while I explain: ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ shows the impact of movies going from silent to sound in the late 1920s, a major technological development which we now take entirely for granted. Our parallel thoughts were that we today entirely take our ability to perform complex searches across massive amounts of data for granted.  The digitised material exists, and we expect to be able to find what we want from it.  However, the root of our problems on the penultimate day of Data Week is that just because The Chemist and Druggist is fully digitised does not automatically mean that it is fully searchable.  Far from it.

So having grappled with searches for four days, we have decided to concentrate on our final day fully on the front end. Our approach is to pretend that the complete search functionality is running perfectly, and play with what we would we be able to present to a researcher.  So we’re faking this with a series of searches carried out on the full run of C&D firstly to create a subset containing the word “inhaler”, then subsequent searches to split these results into adverts and/or articles, another search looking for the brandname “Ventolin” and a final look at presenting results by the decade they appear.  It isn’t feasible to carry these out in ‘real time’ at the moment, so we’re probably going to produce an animation that pretends we can.  A stop motion animation if you like – thank you Paddington!

Written by Briony Hudson


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