Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Understanding the Database

During our last class meeting we had a special guest speaker, Boston Globe database genius, Matt Carroll. Carroll was very enthusiastic about his work with databases and their importance to the newspaper community.
He described the database as, "columns and rows, and a list of different things." Basically a chart with numbers and information that is specifically sorted to make a statement. Of course if a newsman is putting a database together themselves they do have to be careful not to misplace a decimal, "that mistake is a career ender," Carroll said.
I want to take a look at a few databases that we can have fun looking at and interpreting.

The first database is a complete list of the Dunkin' Donuts stores in the Boston metropolitan area.
In the city of Boston itself, a small city of amount 560,000 people has 67 Dunkin' Donuts stores. That's exactly 1 store per every 8, 358.209 people. Not too shabby Dunkin'. Starbucks on the other hand, otherwise known as the store of Demon Spawn, only has around 38 stores in the city of Boston.

The next database we can look at I found on, it contains all of the Open House listings in Jamaica Plain for Sunday, October 5th. I think this website does a very good job of listing the open houses. It gives you the viewer the option to limit the search to what one is specifically looking for, it also supplies a the Google Map locations of exactly where the open houses are. On October 5th there will be 23 open houses in Jamaica Plain, so if anyone is looking for a new home that's the place to check out. I'm probably gonna go to all of the open houses because usually the realtors bring free cookies, I love cookies.

The last database we can look at lists all of the churches in the greater Boston area. Again one can limit this search to their specific neighborhood. Being that Brookline is usually considered a very Jewish neighborhood (and I know this because I'm one of the chosen) let's take a look at the number of churches in Brookline. In the city of Brookline, population around 60,000, there are only 20 churches, while in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, population of 30,000 people, a neighborhood with half the number of people than Brookline has more than twice the amount of churches with 50 of them.

I think that this database would make for a particularly interesting story in measuring the religiousness of Boston neighborhoods. Obviously the database is only the start of the story, it would be very interesting to find out how many of these churches fill out every Sunday and if membership seems to be growing or dwindling. With the plethora of churches in the area it is apparent that the Boston area, historically a Puritan and early Protestant home base in the United States of America, is still very much infatuated with Christ.
Doesn't history always find a way of repeating itself?

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