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After getting a handle of Jer Thorps’ GraphMaker, I thought that it would be fun to tinker around with a bit of processing code to created an infovis that could extract more information from the New York Times archive. Due to the limitation of the NYT server, I was only able to submit a limited instances of query to their database therefore I had to limit my searches to a three year span for each iteration. I also have to profess that I am still a novice in using Processing. The perimeter I set for this query was limited to the number of occurrence Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender appears in the NYT articles over a span of two decades. My goal for this graph was to be able to effectively extract a compelling narrative about the activism in the LGBT community and patterns that could be retooled for further investigation.
My initial assumption when I started this process was an evaluation of the presence of different groups within the LGBT community. The pattern that emerged from the data was much more rich then I felt I had anticipated. One of my surprises in this pattern was the frequencies in which the key work “Gay” was mention more often then the others. On the other spectrum of this surprise was how infrequent “Transgender” was mention within the twenty year span. The number of occurrence did not appreciate until after the turn of the century. Due to the limitation of time for this project, I was not able to thoroughly investigate the reason for this quirk in the data extrapolated from the pattern of the graph.
The time element inherent in the graph also produced data that could be further used for analysis. If you take a close look at the spikes and valley over the time span, they generally coincide with major events that effect the LGBT communities. For example, one memorable spike that occurs in the late 1998 around the month of October was the murder of Matthew Shephard. His death sparked outrage and increased activisim within the LGBT community and brings hate crimes against the LGBT community to the forefront of issues in LGBT activism. Other event, while none relating to the LGBT community such as the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, had significant impact in how often the media cover LGBT topics.
Please post any thoughts and comments as I feel that this could enrich and refine the issues in my research. For those interested in the Processing code, you can find the New York Times Graph Maker on Jer Thorps website: http://blog.blprnt.com/blog/blprnt/7-days-of-source-day-6-nytimes-graphmaker. The scripted used to generate this was a modification of Thorps bar graph components to line graphs. As I am still playing with the code, it still has a lot of kinks I have to work through before I can post it on here.