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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 26

Re: Phoenix lights, FTs, whatever

From: Steven Kaeser <steve@konsulting.com>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 07:17:24 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 12:11:12 -0500
Subject: Re: Phoenix lights, FTs, whatever

>Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 11:33:52 +0200
>From: Jakes Louw <LOUWJE@telkom.co.za>
>To: updates@globalserve.net
>Subject: UFO UpDate: Re: Phoenix lights, FTs, whatever -Reply

>>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
>>From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
>>Subject: re: UFO UpDate: Re: Phoenix lights, FTs, whatever
>>Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 13:38:53 -0800

><Very selective snip, but with relevance to the rest of
>Marks' reply:>

>>I don't think anyone would allege that anyone is not contributing
>>to any database of reports. FUFOR, MUFON, and CUFOS all publish
>>both significant cases and studies. I'm not sure what you're
>>getting at.

>What I'm getting at, and I'm sure that most on the list will
>agree, is that there is a requirement for a centralised,
>coordinated database that must be used for abductions, sightings,
>and other encounters and/or manifestations. Why? Well, there is a
>plethora of data mining packages out there, that can be run
>against MS Access on Windows or even Oracle on UNIX. By setting
>up relationships and keyed links between database
>records/rows/reports, one will be able to retrieve a list of
>reports for, say, Arizona, or a list for any specific night, or a
>combination of several parameters like geographic, timezone, or
>key-word descriptive fields. This would be ideal in analysing
>trends, hot-spots, flight-paths, and so on.

>We're not talking about huge amounts of data here:
>The main reports and studies can be held on
>hard-copy or near-line storage like Zip drive
>or CDR, but with cross-reference codes that are
>kept as a field in the database, where and if
>applicable.

I wish your scenerio was true, but I have to disagree.

Yes, the goal of central storage of this genre's data, with
cross-referenced access would be ideal.  But that goal is far
more challanging than you seem to realize.

Who is going to go through all of the data and digitize it for
storage?

How would you key (or index) this data?

Who will have the responsibility for maintaining the data and
making it available?

But perhaps most importantly, who is actually going to use this data?

I am actually arguing the other side of this issue in another
arena, but felt that the obstacles presented here are indeed
formidable.  As I have had pointed out to me, Jerome Clark has
written three volumns of The UFO Encyclopedia, which are not
inexpensive.  They are thought to be excellent research tools,
and yet they have only sold a couple of hundred copies, with
another 100 thrown in for various libraries.  Admittedly, there
are very few of us that have several hundred dollars to spend on
this "hobby", but that raises the issue of who the massive
compilation you suggest will be aimed at, and how many copies
will actually be sold.

>Investigators and organizational volunteers that will
>keep the database updated will have to work with, and
>according to, a standardised categorisation system,
>probably very like the current CE1-whatever (Hynek?)
>specification that is pretty much generally in use in
>any case.

If you can get researchers and volunteers to actually work
together in this genre, that will be a first.  Perhaps you will
first have to define how this genre will be studied as a
"science", but that would in itself be a first.

>A user-friendly GUI can be set up with, say, Visual Basic
>for the keying in of reports, and inserts into the
>database will be validated against the database for
>possible duplicate entries (check for date, time,
>town/city, reporter name), and then the relevant
>indexes will also be rebuilt to allowed indexed
>searches.

>There are multi-dimensional database mining tools
>also available that will extend the range of
>database relationships almost endlessly.

No one can argue that the technology isn't available, and has
been at some level for many years.  NICAP was actually performing
this task in the 50's and 60's, and the UFO Coalition seems to be
moving toward that goal. However, we now have an international
genre and I'm not sure how you would incorporate it all together
(which would be the ultimate goal).

>Why hasn't this been done already?
>In terms of dollars, we're not talking about a
>lot here, but the returns to the study of
>the UFO phenomenon will be significant.

In terms of man hours, you are talking about quite a bit.  And
since few are going to be willing to give up their data for free,
there would be a cost involved that has yet to be determined.

If you want to discuss data storage and organization further, we
can do so. But I'm not sure it belongs here.

The goal you have outlined is admirable, but probably
unattainable. However, I believe it would be possible for
research groups to market portions of their data in a form that
could be sold to the masses.  This could be used offset some of
the other CD-ROMs of questionable data that others are putting
out in tabloid form, and could help to provide needed funding for
further research.  This new medium, which can incorporate sound
and video clips into the media, is ideal for this type of
project.  But don't underestimate the cost in doing it right.

Steve

PS-  I want to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving
holiday.



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