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Blog: Coding For Christmas

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As Christmas and its associated days off work looms ever closer, all our thoughts are surely turning to FUN CHRISTMAS PROJECTS i.e. something we've been thinking of doing for AGES but have never quite got round to, which now COULD be done in those lovely days that some of us get off between Christmas and New Year.

My thoughts this year have turned to GIGS, or to be more precise ONE THOUSAND gigs. For LO! as previously (repeatedly) mentioned I shall be doing my ONE THOUSANDTH gig early next year (and hopefully my 999th at some point too!), and ever since I mentioned it people have been saying things like "how deeply fascinating," (or words to that effect, if only in subtext) "I wonder what songs you have played most often, also at which venues and with whom?" These are VERY INTERESTING questions, only some of which I can currently answer. For example, I have kept a METICULOUS record of what songs I've played at nearly every gig for the last two decades, and RESEARCH has uncovered quite a few previous setlists, so I can have a good old go at doing STATS about songs played, and I have a record of ALL venues so can generate MATH about that too.

The only thing I can't do is work out WHO I had been playing these gigs with. I do usually know if a gig was SOLO, with a BAND, or with STEVE, but it's not listed in any coherent way in The Database Of Rock and other stuff like Other Bands On The Bill is extremely haphazard. It being CHRISTMAS I decided not to worry too much about that and just get on with the JOLLITY of DATA ENTRY, so spent a delightful couple of hours setting up a DATABASE SYSTEM I could use to record who else was playing ALONGSIDE me (i.e. in the same band) as well as an option to record some PALS who'd played on the same night so that I could answer OTHER questions such as "Exactly how many times have I done gigs with the likes of Pete, Gav, Matt ET AL?"

However, once I'd entered data for a few years-worth of gigs I started to get Quite Excited about the possibilities of this sort of data. When I did my PhD (yes, I've got a PhD, I just don't like to go on about it) I made the data I'd gathered available Open Access so that other people could use it, and ASTONISHINGLY it has been downloaded over 160 times so far. Why not do something similar with THIS dataset, I thought?

Once I'd thought that my BRANE carried on THINKING. "Well, if you're going to do that," it reasoned, "why not write an ACADEMIC PAPER about the data? After all, a dataset like this could be an HISTORICAL DOCUMENT." "What, of ME and how GRATE I am?" I asked. "No, DOLT!" (my BRANE maybe spent a bit too long on Doctor Doom). "Not of you, but of the whole MILLIEU what you is and/or was part of."

That was an interesting IDEA- welll done BRANE! Recently I went to see Mark Lewisohn do one of his BEATLES talks, and it had taken him YEARS to piece together data about where they played and who they played WITH. He can thus say how MANY gigs they did, but how can we tell if that was NORMAL or not? We don't really know what other, NOT BEATLES, bands were doing, so can't really say for sure if they were super-busy. Similarly, you couldn't tell how The Beatles' progression towards the headline spot compared to other bands, or indeed WHAT other bands existed at the time.

Nowadays we have a lot more of this sort of information available ONLINE, but actually once you start to look back this too gets very HAZY very very quickly. For example, a while ago I was trying to remember WHEN I'd been to a gig that I remembered from back in the 1990s, and thought I'd be able to find out from The Internet, but there was nothing at all there about it. There are whole BANDS who do not exist AT ALL on the internet, just because they weren't famous enough to get into any mainstream media, and existed before Band Webpages became a thing and/or were even archived properly.

With all THAT in mind I realised that maybe something like this COULD be a useful resource, and so went BACK to my database and tidied things up a bit, adding stuff like order of appearance and a LOT more named bands. It's now taking quite a bit longer to research each gig and with ONE THOUSAND of them to get through, some going back to THE NINETEEN FLIPPING EIGHTIES, it might take me a while to do them all, but I'm hoping that once it's finished it will perform two functions. Firstly, it will be a resource for future generations who want to investigate INTERNATIONAL ROCK STARS (especially those too ruddy PUNK ROCK for the popular music media hem hem), and secondly it will be GRATE fun for ME to be able to tell WHO I have done most gigs with! Stand by for MULTIPLE UPDATES!

posted 22/12/2022 by MJ Hibbett

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Comments:

Excellent! And then published as Linked Open Data with links to wikidata? The future is already here :)
posted 22/12/2022 by Driek

Wheeh stats!!!!
posted 28/12/2022 by Charlie

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