Thursday, March 01, 2007

More on putting up a political theory database

On October 18, I sketched out a possible database to map out and compare political arguments and document the sources that these arguments come from. The link is here.

The idea is that there would be three main tables, reasonably normalized: (1) A table of argument statements, coded by topic (2) a table of historical incidents (3) a table of sources documenting the incidents and the arguments, and coded as to the journalistic credibility of the source. The tables could be linked with appropriate SQL queries, mostly inner joins.

I have been developing this database offline as a Microsoft Access application. In theory, it could be loaded to a Windows Server website, and a user with Access could map it to the appropriate drive and run it. (Once you create an application in access, when you open the mdb from Windows Explorer, the computer actually executes the application.) Or it could be loaded as an ASP on a windows server configured properly, in appropriate directories on that server with the proper permissions. You have to use the proper Access panels and connect to your server, set up appropriately to run the asp's to access the data. Users will have to have Access to use this kind of application.

A much more flexible approach is to develop an executable application to get and query the data from SQL Server. The best environment is probably Visual Studio .NET with C# the language of choice. Microsoft offers an Express version of this with a choice of the Web development, or the ADO database development packages, but not both at the same time. To do that, you need at a miniumum to purchase the Professional version and devlop an application environment that can be loaded or copied to your web server.

But accomplishing all of this would take all of my written materials and format it in a professional manner where it could form the foundation of a commercial educational service for exploring controversial issues. I'll keep everyone posted.

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