The Engine: A Relational Database for Narrative Generation

European nations are “struggling greatly with inclusiveness and discrimination” and the United States has become “one of the most unequal democracies in the world” (Stille, 2011).  As evidenced by the protests of 2011, such inequality is a destabilizing force and a threat to peace and prosperity in nations across the globe. The protests, however, which are reported to have taken place in 951 cities in 82 nations, were largely ineffective in bringing about policy change. Only those who followed the movements closely were aware of how every attempt had been made to create new governing narratives, but the evidence suggests that, for the most part, those efforts failed. To counter this, and to allow for narratives to emerge organically as an integral part of the social media activity that was so important to the protest movements, a database project is currently under development. It is a university-based effort to create a global participant-driven social justice and advocacy tool for connecting new and existing web content into a single resource with a querying system that will pull out the records in narrative threads that are easily framed and contextualized into compelling policy arguments. The need is great because of how much harm is done by old narratives that oppress and marginalize entire populations. Rather than try to deconstruct the deeply entrenched social orders that are, in some cases centuries old, this project will seek instead to simply displace them, thus avoiding the “trap of causality” which has derailed many attempts at reform in the past (Miller, 2012, in press). 

This paper was prepared for presentation at the 7th Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems (MCIS 2012). If accepted for presentation at the conference it will be published by the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. If rejected by the conference selection committee it will be published here.


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