Week #4: Reflections on Databases

I tried executing the SQL statements on the phpMyAdmin page of my host, but keep getting an error message regarding my syntax. So presumably I didn’t successfully reproduce the database described by Stephen Ramsay. In thinking about the different ways of structuring data, I sense the following,


For flat data structures, especially spreadsheets which I am most informed of, the advantages that I can easily see is the convenience of this structure and the multiple platforms that this structure can be written/applied on, e.g. a makeshift spreadsheet can be written anywhere vis-à-vis relational databases which require strict ways of being written to be legible. The disadvantages of such a structure would be the unavailability for data to be searched once the columns and rows start to pile up. In addition, the relational databases showcase a great deal of flexibility and searchability. But the obvious downside would be the inaccessibility of its syntax/grammar/etc. For as much as Stephen Ramsay’s article is supposed to be an “intro”-level material, I find it hard to grasp in between the lines and especially in between the technical language and the purpose it serves.


Other issues to watch out for include, on an obvious note, the categories and groups that databases allow. For example, it seems quite conventional to group author, publisher, and information about books together as it makes the most sense for us. But in many cases, for non-conventional publishing and self-employed writers and researchers, such standards are hard to meet and therefore automatically disqualify their work. But beyond that, I am curious to see databases/other digital humanity tools to be utilized beyond a certain anthropocentric, Euro-American constraint that oozes whiteness and class privilege. I wonder where the entry point is or even what are the ways in which we can reimagine alternative epistemes.

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