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Topic: A Christian Conjurer Searchable Index
Message: Posted by: Kerry Kistler (Jun 21, 2006 07:28PM)
Hi Gang,

Since the mid 80's I have had this obsession with getting back issues of the Conjurer indexed for easy access of buried information. We even purchased our first computer and data base program back in 1984 with such a project in mind. I got a 5 year run finished with an index done on props, themes and scriptures. I excluded all peronality profiles to keep the index limited to useful material. Back then I envisioned a printed resource that the FCM could make available as a bonus "issue" every 5 years or so.

Since then a couple of other people have tackled a similar indexing project including Marge Cook and ??? - another guy I can't recall off the top.

Anyway, as far as I know, there has never been a complete comprehensive index done of the back issues of the Conjurer. Yes, I understand that such an index would be rather pointless for people who don't have many back issues.

But back then, when I was sorting down data with D Base 3+, my vision was limited because the internet hadn't been invented yet. Now we are living in a different age. Someone else posted a similar comment here recently that it would be great if back issues were available online. Great idea! What if ALL of the back issues were somehow available online, in a protected, searchable site? Only current members would be able to access the database by way of a password.

Think of the possibilities that unlocking this treasury of dust-gathering material would open. What a great value-added bonus feature for our members.

Let's say I have a particular scripture that I am building a Sunday school lesson around. Log on, search on the scripture and see what others have done with it.

Let's say I have a theme (Christmas, Prayer, Showmanship, etc.) or a prop (Die Box, Dove Pan, etc.) and want to get some starter ideas. Log on, let an engine do the searching and shazam. Scanned articles waiting to be read.

In this information age is seems a pity that lots of real gems are buried in the back issues of the Conjurer only to be forgotten.

Hey! Are there any creative members out there who have lots of spare time to work on such a project? Such a labor of love and service would leave an eternal legacy for the FCM, its membership and the Kingdom.

Hey, pray about it.
Message: Posted by: paulmagic (Jun 21, 2006 09:03PM)
It would make becoming a member more attractive if such an index existed.
FCM is inactive here and there is not much motivation to pay for membership and really get nothing much in return
Great project. Hope it comes to fruition.
Message: Posted by: phill (Jun 22, 2006 08:02AM)
Kerry -
OUTSTANDING IDEA! The material from the combined past CC's would have to be one of the largest, single, Gospel oriented resources available.
Regarding the compilation of this information, would it be feasible to break it down into different "departments" - ie: magic, balloons, vent, puppets, object lessons etc. The saying "many hands make light work" comes to mind. There may be a better response in asking folks to be part of a team, with one person acting as coordinator or facilitator, instead of one person attempting to tackle this project.


BTW, as a side note; I greatly appreciate your contribution of the "Dream Reader XJ-7000" two years ago. Instead of the "seat cover", I use a stainless steel colander (the kind you wash vegatables in)- also available at WalMart, just in a different section :) decorated with 160 balloons and flashing bicycle reflectors. I carry it in a black plastic file box properly decorated.
Message: Posted by: Rickfcm (Jun 22, 2006 02:49PM)
I made a data base like this for all the books in my library. I used file amego as it is a freee database program. I can look up anything in my library by subject, verse, trick or object lesson. There are over 7000 entries in the data base but it is useless unless you have the same books in your library.
Message: Posted by: Kerry Kistler (Jun 22, 2006 05:38PM)
Hi Phill,

Yes, this should be a group effort but just how the data should be input is another matter. If if was possible to use an OCR program to scan the pages of back issues and then filter them with some sort of search engine (ala the Café), it could really simplify the whole process. With the way search engines work today, all a person has to do is type in a key word string and viola, you have a whole list of possible matches.

Unfortunately, this does leave some unforseen "holes" in an index. When I did my 5 year index "by hand", each article had its own data sheet with special code fields that had to be filled out and entered, then sorted. It was time consuming, cumbersome and rather subjective. But, what it did do was allow a human touch to tweak the index.

For example, I remember many routines that didn't actually list a specific scripture but rather quoted a portion of it. Or it mentioned a particular Bible story without giving the reference. I spent long hours looking up the actual scriptures and input them before I did the data base sort.

I did lots of this type of tweaking with props, themes, etc. Maybe there was a Christmas routine but nowhere in the actual routine did the word "Christmas" appear. A human can tell the index to include that article in a "Christmas" listing. A search engine cannot make these kind of distinctions. So, you get a trade-off - you get an imperfect "index" but at least you get an index.

Anyway, I don't have the technical savvy to do this with OCR/search engine technology. Any suggestions?

Glad you liked the Dream Reader routine. Did you mean that you use the decorated collander as the Dream Reader? Or do you really use the collander in lieu of a seat cover?

Message: Posted by: phill (Jul 3, 2006 07:42AM)
On 2006-06-22 18:38, Kerry Kistler wrote:
............Glad you liked the Dream Reader routine. Did you mean that you use the decorated collander as the Dream Reader? Or do you really use the collander in lieu of a seat cover?



I used the collander in lieu of the seat cover :)

Message: Posted by: Kerry Kistler (Feb 21, 2007 04:33PM)
Hey Gang,

This may actually become a reality! Here is a comment Mike Stenberg made in his last "Editor's Corner" in the Conjurer:

"We hope to have all issues of the Conjurer available on the website [access for members only]. Searchable for an article, trick, person or most anything."

Great news! Stay tuned.