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Groklaw's New Quote Database Feature
Saturday, October 18 2003 @ 05:26 PM EDT

We are happy to announce a new feature of Groklaw, a searchable database of quotations by principals in the SCO story. There is a link to it right under the Home link, on the left.

For example, perhaps you're Red Hat, and you'd like to know everything Darl McBride ever said about your company, you can find it here. Perhaps I should qualify that last statement to say that you can find everything he ever said that we have in our database.

Or maybe you read a quotation in a news story by, say, Laura DiDio, and you wonder what else she has said about this subject over the course of the SCO saga. Now you can readily find out, and I must say, the effect is cumulative.

The database has been donated to us by Groklaw reader and computer programmer LHJ, and we're very grateful to him for his wonderfully useful code. It's an ongoing database, obviously, so if you find bugs or have submissions to add to the database, just email me or leave a comment with your submission and we'll follow through.

The database includes some new copyright information on the SCO/Novell copyright mystery that LHJ collected in his research.

One of the first uses of the database was by LHJ himself, to figure out who is quoted most frequently in the mainstream media on the SCO story, and I'll bet you can guess who won, hands down, but I'll let him tell you about it:

"I have felt for a long time that SCO was executing a very well-planned media strategy, together with a serious, organized program to reach out to big investors. As bumbling as their legal strategy seems to us, they have been very effective at getting their message out and convincing investors to buy in.

"Like many others, I'm sure, I decided to track online media coverage of the SCO case by reading all the stories I could and collecting quotes. I wasn't serious about it for a while, because I kept feeling the story would climax and die any time now. No doubt tracking of media coverage is done routinely by company PR departments and political candidates using staffers and extensive filing and database systems, but when I did finally get serious, I realized I would have to do the same job in my spare time as a one-person operation. Fortunately, open source tools like MySQL, PHP, and Apache made it easy for me to design a system to enter and store article titles and urls as well as quotes, all with just a few clicks. The next step for the project would be to become a collaboration with many eyes sifting through all the data and proposing features.

"The result now is a database of 668 articles and 846 quotes that is easy to search for all kinds of interesting tidbits. Have SCO executives made comments mentioning Red Hat? Search for it in a blink of an eye. Which journalists have been most prolific in covering the story? Another quick search.

"One interesting search I made was a check of who has been most quoted about the case. Then I checked how often these people were quoted week by week over the whole year so far. There are a number of factors that make the results less than definitive. For example, I have certainly not made an exhaustive collection of the articles and quotes out there. It's also possible that I did a more thorough job collecting quotes by some players over others. Moreover, the quote count below will put heavy weight on articles and interviews where someone is quoted multiple times, and this measure may not be appropriate for the comparison.

"Nevertheless, the list appears with the quoted parties ranked 1-9 then A-F. Below the ranking is a week-by-week list of all quotes labeled by the digit or letter rank of the quotee. The result is a crude bar graph that tells you who was talking to the media when.

"I caution you from over-interpreting. It's clear that SCO executives actively sought exposure and coverage during some periods. On the other hand Linus Torvalds (#5 at 21 quotes) only spoke out at a few key moments and kept to his development work the rest of the time. When Torvalds did choose to speak out, he didn't have trouble being heard.

With that caution, here are the results:"

I hope you enjoy Groklaw's new feature. I've certainly been having fun playing with it. Like everything else about Groklaw, though, it has a serious purpose as well, and we hope you will all help out by sending us quotes with urls and your ideas for new features, so we can make this over time a truly complete work.

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