Monday, May 20, 2019

Would You Like to Help With My Mass Murder Project?

I have one research assistant doing a spectacular job digging through old newspapers, but I would like to finish this project before the propagandists win.  USA Today published an amazing collection of mass murders for 2006-2017.  Not just firearms mass murders, but even the 1/4 not involving guns.  What I need is someone to mouse over each bubble on that chart and find independent coverage of those events and give me a list of perhaps the first 10 URLs associated with that mass murder.  I can afford to pay $10/hour for your contribution to a piece of scholarship that will likely play a significant role in subverting the CNN paradigm that mass murder is a gun issue.

It might be possible for some clever person to write a program to mine the data from each bubble and search the web for capitalized words (typically city names and victim/perpetrator names) and automatically produce the search string to find URLs.  (I say might, because examining the HTML shows a lof of Javascript calls that may be resistant to interrogation.  Before the stroke I would have tried this myself.)  Necessarily, this would be a less than perfect way to find matches, but it would be faster to check each URL than to read each bubble and search by hand.  If you are sufficiently skilled to write a program to automate this process, I would gladly pay for your hard work on this mildly interesting piece of coding.

UPDATE: One of my readers managed to extract the data as a spreadsheet.  Still some work to chase down newspaper reports, but I now have a chance of automating the search!  I now have 362 records, many of which have a name, and all have a city, state, and date.  Now I need to figure out how to automate the search.

If anyone would like to suggest a strategy, the Excel spreadsheet is here.

UPDATE 2:  I am thinking awk to separate the description column and the city; egrep to extract all proper nouns (names of murderers, victims, and school or business) and then some magic to feed each set of keywords to a search engine.

1 comment: