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      Oathbringer Spoiler Policy   11/13/2017

      Oathbringer is out! Let's make our policy on spoilers clear! 1. You must preface topics with Oathbringer spoilers with the prefix [OB] in the front 2. You are only allowed to post spoilers and spoiler topics in the Oathbringer Spoiler Board, Cosmere Theories, and some select work-related forums. 3. For posts in the Oathbringer Spoiler Board you do not need to use spoiler tags inside a topic marked [OB]. For Cosmere Theories, you also do not need to put spoiler tags inside your topic if the topic has [OB] in the title. However, for Cosmere Theories, if you are adding Oathbringer stuff to an old theory without the [OB] tag, those must go in spoiler tags and you must make it obvious outside the spoiler tag that the spoiler is regarding Oathbringer content. 4. For select things that do require talking about OB spoilers, in Events, Coppermind, and Arcanum forums, those are allowed but keep OB spoilers in spoiler tags 5. Avoid and minimize spoilers in topic titles--even though those two boards will not appear in the Recent Topics ticker, topic titles still appear in Recent Activity and the forum home.  6. You aren't allowed to post Oathbringer spoilers in places other than listed, even with spoiler tags.  It will be nine months and then the Oathbringer board will be re-merged with the Stormlight board and you will not need to tag these spoilers. If you'd like to move something in the Stormlight Archive board to the Oathbringer board, to update it with new Oathbringer information, Report the post and we will happily move it to the Oathbringer spoiler board. Part-by-part Reactions Though the Oathbringer Spoiler Board will be very spoilery, very fast (maybe don't come there until you've read the book, as people do have copies that bookstores sold early), you'll have these five topics for reactions if you want to nerd out: Part 1 Reactions
      Part 2 Reactions
      Part 3 Reactions
      Part 4 Reactions
      Full Book Reactions For parts 1-4, they will not include the interludes immediately following it. On Discord All Oathbringer spoilers on Discord will be exclusively in the #oathbringer_spoilers channel for the nine month spoiler period and nowhere else.
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Pagerunner

Here we are: the finish line. I've completed my review of all of Brandon's TWG posts. I decided not to review Peter's at this time; the one thing I knew I wanted to find was the Dragonsteel excerpt that Peter had posted there once, but it was part of the recently released chapters, so I don't feel the need to dig for it anymore. That closes out the last thing I wanted to review of Brandon's social media; I haven't gotten it all into Arcanum yet (the new WoB Archive, in case any of you haven't heard), but I plan on getting it in before release. You'll be able to see everything I found from looking at the Blog, TWG, and old Twitter events, come November 8th. But that's still a week and a half away, which means today, I'll start with one of my new WoBs, instead of putting it at the end. This is a bit of workshopping Brandon did for an Elantris sequel name:

Quote

Okay, so here's the thing.  I want to write a sequel to ELANTRIS someday--or, at least, I want to leave myself open to the possibility.  

The first book is named after the city of Elantris, where most of the action takes place.  The sequel, set ten years after the first book, will take place in the capitol city of the prime antagonists in the series.  For cohesion, this book should probably be named after that city.

So, here's the problem.  Usually I have months and months to settle on a book title, and I'm usually pretty happy with what I get.  However, I don't have an opportunity to write the book this time before I name it.  I mention the city that will be the title of the next book several times in ELANTRIS.  I have to make certain I really like this city name now, since I'll probably name a book after it sometime in the future.

So, I've been digging for ideas.  The country the book will take place in is called 'Fjorden.'  As you might guess from that name, the dialectical genre of the culture is a Scandinavian spin-off.  (It's kind of a guttural Norse--Scandinavian with some harsh Germanic sounds thrown in.)

Other words in the language:

Hrathen
Dilaf
Arteth
Dakhor
Grondkest
Svorden

I need a name for the new city that would work well as a book title (i.e., it needs to be fairly easy to pronounce, and needs to sound cool) but that still fits with the linguistic style of the region.

Here are some I've come up with so far.  What do you think of these?  Which is your favorite?  Which don't you like?

Zinareth  
Widor
Velding
Klynair
Valinrath
Skaln
Vallensha
Vallinor  

That's the opening post, but there's quite a bit more discussion of it in this old TWG thead. This gives you a hint of what the fandom was like back in the day before Brandon was published. Pretty jealous, aren't you?

Closing Thoughts

I think this was a very valuable project, both for me personally (I learned a bunch of old WoBs, and managed to get myself onto the Arcanum team) and for the community (especially since I was able to get all the old Reddit stuff out a couple of months back). Definitely glad I did it.

As far as the actual database I created... Arcanum is explicitly not a database. It works mainly on its search engine, with tags designed primarily to support that. I still feel pretty strongly that a relational database, with properly applied tag intersections, is something that would close a lot of gaps and help with both casual research and focused searches. I'm not able to work directly with Arcanum... but I can actually tweak my existing Microsoft Access structure to use Arcanum event numbers and entry numbers, and then tinker on my own with some of the areas I think Arcanum can be improved on. Stuff like superseded WoBs, excluding writing advice, sorting by series, curated lists... I've got a whole bunch of ideas I think would be neat. It wouldn't be terribly practical, since I wouldn't have any of the actual WoB text there, but I think it would be a fun project to keep on the back burner. And an excuse to go through all the Arcanum WoBs and transcriptions, which would be fun to do anyways.

If I ever get anything serious rolling with that, I might reopen this blog. But for now, my WoB Database is officially closed. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Pagerunner

Reddit: 100%
Twitter: 100%
Blog: 100%
TWG: Brandon 20% (49/249 pages), Peter 0% (0/326 pages)

The review of the blog is done. And now I slog through the TWG. It's a little weird, going through Brandon's musings about music and movies and lingerie (really). Most of it isn't relevant in the slightest, but there are some rare gems. I posted the Aether stuff I found a couple months ago; those are the sort of things I'm looking for. Even though it's a couple thousand posts between Brandon and Peter (who I know has posted stuff about Dragonsteel in there), I don't expect to find very many new pieces of information at all. But this is the last place to check, so check it I will.

I expect that I will only have one final update, next month. I'll have finished up my review and inputted everything I found into the new archive (which is on track to go live by the time Oathbringer is released). For now, an interesting WoB that was never transcribed for some reason, only summarized, during the Seattle signing on the Calamity tour. But in the process of moving stuff from Theoryland to the new system, I found it and transcribed it:

Quote

Questioner

How many worlds does [the cosmere] have in it?

Brandon Sanderson

A couple hundred. A couple hundred stars.

Questioner

How many planets are your books going to use?

Brandon Sanderson

Habitable worlds, in Goldilocks zones? There's probably 20 or 30, maybe a few more. Maybe up to 50, but you'll only really... there'll be like, ten or so core planets that you'll see stories from.

 

Pagerunner

WoB Count: 4419
Reddit: 100%
Twitter: 100%
Blog: 79%, 114/145 pages
TWG: 0%

Making up for lost time on these updates, since I was able to complete a lot of work in the last week. I had four solid days where I was rained in during Hurricane Harvey, and I was able to import nearly my entire database into the new Shard archive, and finish up my Twitter review while I was at it. (Well, everything in Twitter from 2015 on had already been taken care of, so I didn't have to do as much as I thought I was going to.) For both of Brandon's main forms of social media, we are up to date and have reviewed the entire available records. Most of the good stuff was in Reddit, which I have already shared, but there is some good stuff in Twitter, too, that you all will have to wait to see.

It's a little sad, closing my Access database for what is probably the last time. But all of my stuff has migrated over, so there's no need to maintain my own database anymore. I'll give you one last WoB count here; if you recall from the last time I gave you numbers, I had been just shy of 1000. That's everything that is in the new system; it takes a little bit of work to get that number, so I might not continue doing it. There is still a lot to go, but it is cool to see how that 10% of our currently documented WoBs come from the 2015 AMA. Which was by and large lost to Theoryland.

Looking forward, I'll be splitting my attention. My personal priority is to dig up the stuff that nobody knows about; now that I've passed along all the social media stuff, my conscience is clear to go back to the blog and then to the TimeWaster's Guide. But I will need to spend some time working on getting old Theoryland events into the new system. It's not quite at the point where they would take it live, so I can't go back to my room just yet. Interviews had been my lowest priority, but now I'll need to give them some love.

I've taken them off the progress updates above, since that isn't my personal project, and I also don't have a good way of accounting the percentage.

So, to close out, back to some interesting discoveries I made, about the early development of the cosmere. Everything kind of started in one book, that had elements of both Dragonsteel and Stormlight Archive:

Quote

I decided to push Rock's people in the direction of a human/parsh hybrid strain. This also was part of moving Rock himself from Yolen to Roshar, following after Dalinar and some other characters, who came earlier during the original Dragonsteel/Stormlight split in the early 2000s.

Source.

Quote

 

Q: how long did it take you to develop the idea / world of The Stormlight Archive?

A: I wrote down the first ideas 1993. Kept working on the world through college. First draft done 2002.

 

Source.

Quote

 

Q: And of course that’s on top of the fact everyone knows the Cosmere itself is totally M:tG, specifically Alara. Right, @BrandSanderson?

A: Except for the fact that the cosmere books pre-date both…

 

Source.

Elantris was written in 1999. The first draft of White Sand was done in 1997 (though it wasn’t brought into the cosmere until it was rewritten, after Dragonsteel). Magic: The Gathering was first released in 1993. So, Brandon isn’t talking about any of the unpublished drafts he includes in his personal writing history. This was an ancient book, one that contained the seeds that would grow to become Dragonsteel, the Stormlight Archive, and the rest of the Cosmere. And, believe it or not, we have a page from that book! You can find it here. Dalinar was named Jared in that book. (Hoid’s name looks to be Kamp.) I guess things have spun out of control quite a bit since then.

Pagerunner

Well, I warned you all. No progress.

But that is all going to change. After a few weeks without internet and really bad cell reception in my new apartment, I finally have everything set up and ready to. I plan on spending a good chunk of time this weekend working on getting my Reddit stuff into the Shard's new database; things should go pretty quick, since I have my new dual-monitor system that will make it a breeze. And I have no friends down here yet to distract me. And there's a hurricane coming through this part of the world that will mean I'll have to stay inside.

I've decided not to go any farther on the blog dredging for now; I've been promising Chaos for a while now that I would eventually get my Reddit thread into the new software, and now I'd like to get that taken care of as quickly as possible before poking around with other snippets. I also may need to pick up again with Brandon's Reddit posts since April; I don't know if anyone has been keeping that up-to-date in the new system yet.

But for those of you wondering what kind of goodies are lurking in Brandon's ancient, unguarded posts, I do have one treat for you. If you haven't seen it yet, Aether of Night is now available through the Shard admins. I dug up some Timewaster's Guide posts Brandon made back in 2004 about an Aether megaseries he was considering developing. It doesn't look like it went anywhere, but I collected what I found here. I'd like to do a similar thing for TWG comments about Dragonsteel, so I will get back to the post-by-post review at some point, and finish up going through Brandon's Blog while I'm at it. But that can wait until after Oathbringer, so I've gotta keep my priorities straight.

Pagerunner

No progress to report, unfortunately. I had said that this would be a very unproductive couple of months for WoB archive stuff. But quite productive in other areas of my life: Sidewalk 2, Pagerunner 3 (OT).

These sorts of "no update" updates are still important, though. This project isn't off my radar, and neither is the new WoB database project. I just don't have any time to devote to them. I did buy some new hardware to make this work go easier, but I haven't found time to use it yet (it's a dock that can connect my Surface to a monitor, so I can dual screen this bad boy). And it's going to get packed up in a week for my move, so I won't see it for another 7-21 days (yay, timetable estimates!).

Unfortunately, expect another similar post for my August update. Such is life.

Pagerunner

WoB Count: 998
Reddit: 100%
Twitter: 29%, 28/97 months
Blog: 79%, 114/145 pages
Interviews: 2%, 8/485

So, big news this past month for WoBs. The Shard admins finally announced their new database. I posted all my Reddit WoBs, because I got tired of people asking me to find something for them. Good times.

As you might not be surprised to hear, I have been tapped as one of the beta users for the new WoB system. I'll be adding what I have while seeing if I can break the system, and make any suggestions that I feel are relevant. I haven't gotten into it yet; they're still finishing up some work before opening it to the beta users. But, since one of their goals is going through and collecting anything old not in Theoryland, then what I've been doing with Reddit and Twitter has been helping. (Exactly as I have foreseen!) I'll keep pushing through with checking through the old stuff, although it will go a little slower. I might not be able to say much, since they like their privacy a lot more than I do, but I'll keep you all up to date on what I can.

I will be discontinuing my work on a database front end, and on pulling in everything from Theoryland, since those are both covered by Weiry, Mestiv, and their team. I'll table some of my longer-term plans that I'd had for my WoB database; if I had ever gotten it running, I would have liked to build separate tables for Theories and Questions that would use the same tags, but also be able to cross-reference with WoBs. I'll run some stuff by the staff, see if there's anything they want to do with it down the line.

I might not get to all that much stuff in the next month or two. Aside from backfilling the new database, I've got a lot going on in my personal life right now. I'm moving across the country in two months, so I'm finishing up a lot of with my job, I'm packing up and selling my house, I'm spending a lot of time with my siblings and my niece (who is super cute, and who I like more than all of you combined). I've got a lot on my plate, but I should be able to get back in the swing of things at the end of the summer. When Oathbringer comes, we'll be in good shape.

I'll close out with an interesting WoB from this year's Leipzig signing:

Quote
Q: Will there be a major part in the story for the Sleepless?
 
A: Yes, but much later on.
 
Q: What means later on?
 
A: Well, they have a major role in the science fiction Mistborn trilogy, but that's pretty far off. So they will be very important very much later on.

 

Pagerunner

WoB Count: 759
Reddit: 100%
Twitter: 9%, 9/97 months
Blog: 53%,  77/145 pages
Interviews: 0%, 0/484

Welcome back, everyone. Things are still moving along - as you can see, I am 100% up to date on Reddit! (Well, as much as I can be. There will probably be some other snippets I'll pull in that are listed on their own in Theoryland or in their own topics on the Shard.) Right now, I'm still working my way through the blog and through Twitter chronologically. I'm actually pretty much at the same spot for both of them - through Dec 2009 for twitter, and Sep 09 for the blog. It really is interesting to look back with all the knowledge we have now, to be able to read between the lines of his WoT updates to see how early they actually were working on the split.

Even though I'm enjoying the Wheel of Time stuff, I'm not getting all that much for the cosmere database. That's why you see, even with the latest AMA, I haven't even added 100 WoBs this month. This will jump when I get around to adding new interviews - there has been quite a bit of stuff this year that Theoryland doesn't have, and there's another con coming up this weekend. For now, I'm doing a lot of skimming, searching for the harder-to-find stuff, to get everything that Theoryland doesn't have in there first. (Also, I'm having some computer problems, while it's easy to go through the blog on my phone. I'll probably need to call Microsoft to resolve some battery issues with my Surface 3; I like the machine, but it won't charge, and it's really hard to use when its battery is dead.)

My plan has always been to pull together the data that nobody has, and even if I don't get a functioning system, I have stuff other people can use after they've pulled everything Theoryland has. And, if you keep your ears to the ground, you can actually hear a lot of movement around the internet on something new to store and share WoBs. Here on the forums, over on Discord, in back alleys, up in blimps; people are talking, working on getting a new system in place. I think there will be at least one new player in the WoB game by the time Oathbringer comes out. So keep your ears open, boys and girls. But, all that to say, I might avoid Theoryland entirely, and try to comb through the Time Waster's Guide archive once I've completed the Twitter and Blog passes. I know some of the big stuff from TWG is already in Theoryland, but Peter just passed along something interesting from a long time ago, that Hemalurgy was the original name of Sazed's magic. These are the kinds of things I'd really like to find, the stuff that has been lost to the ages. So, if someone else is going to work on taking Theoryland's data and putting it into a new system, I might just keep digging.

Lastly, here's a WoB to leave you all with, from the latest AMA. It's not as earth-shattering as some of the other ones I've shard, but I think it has some neat implications. I'll discuss it more below the jump.

Quote
Q: Hi! I just finished Warbreaker, and I caught my mind that they have animals that exists on Earth (at least by the name, like monkeys, panther, and so). Is this a common thing in the all the planets of the cosmere?
 
A: It is common on many of the planets, though it is more likely to happen on a planet (or an ecosystem on a planet) created by Shards, as they're often basing the animal life on creatures they've seen before. That said, some planets with life predating the splintering had Earth-like ecosystems too.
The writing answer is that this was a way for me to control learning curve in my series, so that I could have some (like Roshar) that take a lot of effort to get into, and others that are a little more easy to get into. This lets me save the really crazy worldbuilding for a few specific series.

Source

The Arcanum Unbounded essay for the Scadrian system said that there were two worlds where humans were created by Shards. Scadrial is one of them; I've suspected that Nalthis is the other one, since Breath is built into their spiritwebs. This lends credence to that idea, and maybe that the entire ecosystem was made by Endowment (although the planet itself was probably already there, but uninhabitable). But the particular phrasing of his answer shows that there are five kinds of worlds in the cosmere:

  1. Created by Shards, earth-like ecosystem, humans created. (Scadrial, Nalthis [probable])
  2. Created by Shards, earth-like ecosystem, humans imported or no human presence.
  3. Created by Shards, divergent ecosystem.
  4. Created by Adonalsium, earth-like ecosystem.
  5. Created by Adonalsium, divergent ecosystem. (Roshar)

Brandon saying it's common implies that there are more worlds created after the Shattering with earth-like life besides Nalthis and Scadrial that were created after the Shattering, since there are 'a bunch' of minor Shardworlds. But, again, we also know that only two worlds had their humans created by the Shards. Does this mean that on other worlds, the ecosystems were created by Shards, but the people came from elsewhere? Or maybe it's referring to some of the uninhabited worlds in the systems we've seen, like the other worlds in the Threnodite system? (Basically, Threnody and the Drominad worlds are either Type 2 or Type 4, and Sel might be one too if it doesn't turn out to have dragons.)

We also learn that there are worlds created by Shards, that are not like Earth. (Assuming Brandon didn't mean that 100% of Shard-created worlds have earth-like life, which would technically still mean "it is more likely to happen on a planet ... created by Shards.")  Roshar is out; we know that was created by Adonalsium, and it's a Type 5. Of the ones we've seen, that leaves Taldain to be a Type 3, with an ecosystem created by Autonomy. But if that's the case, where did the human population come from? (This question remains for all Type 3 worlds, even if we later discover Taldain is a Type 5.)

Also, let's just throw in Type 6 and Type 7, predating Adonalsium and being earth-like and divergent, respectively. I don't know if these exist, but I'll cover my butt just in case. Yolen might be Type 4 or Type 6, and who knows if any Type 7s exist.

I should probably spin this off into its own topic somewhere. And combine that with my Major/Minor and Core/Auxiliary terminology to have a precise way to discuss many aspects of Shardworlds. (Even more of a side note, I've been planning on adding Augmented and Diminished to go with Major/Minor, to address whether a Shard is currently there or not.)

Like I said, this WoB might not seem like much, but I think it's an important piece to understanding the cosmere as a whole. I can really get my wheels spinning on it.

Pagerunner

WoB Count: 699
Reddit: 86%
Twitter: 0%, 0/93 months
Blog: 29%,  42/144 pages
Interviews: 0%, 0/475

April comes after February, right? No update for last month... sorry about that, but I was very busy with important work. Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild. I'm pretty much done with that for now, so I can get back to working on the database.

Biggest news, I've worked through the old Reddit backlog. Unfortunately, there was another AMA, so I've got a new Reddit backlog. It won't be as long, and I'll be able to get it all fairly easily from Brandon's user page. But, I added the new backlog as a sixth major task for Reddit on my tracking, so I'm 5/6 of the way done with that.

After that, I'll probably go through some of the recent signings that haven't been put in Theoryland; Brandon's European tour, and the Boston convention. I've been caught with my pants down a couple time for not being up to date or not being able to find some of that recent info, so I'd like to get them some place I can easily cross-reference them.

Notable WoB from this most recent batch:

Quote
Q: You once said that Investiture follows its own version of the laws of thermodynamics. The first one is that Investiture is neither created nor destroyed. Is the second law of Investodynamics that the amount of corrupted Investiture in the Cosmere cannot decrease?
 
A: Basically, the idea is that there is a third item in the equations--matter, energy, and investiture. That's the basis of how they work. Entropy is not corrupted Investiture. The second law stands as is. However, there is a fourth law that relates to Adonalsium, which I'm not going to talk about at the moment.

Source

Pagerunner

WoB Count: 405
Reddit: 15%
Twitter: 0%, 0/93 months
Blog: 22%,  31/144 pages
Interviews: 0%, 0/475

Okay, so here's my first structured update. I've made posts pretty frequently this last week and a half, but I'll probably shoot for once a month now that I've gotten things rolling.

Two major differences from what I said I was gonna do. First, I've added Brandon's blog. A lot of them were included in Theoryland's interview database, but I spun them off into their own category. There's not a ton of info from there - I've looked at over 300 posts, and only got like 5 useful bits of info. (Side note, Brandon's old posts are painful to read. But that might be the fault of SCAAALZIII!) I've also gotten a final count of the Theoryland interview and signing pages I want to look over. It's a little lower than I had expected, because a good number of them were from Brandon's blog. But even for all those, many of them probably won't have anything I'm looking for, especially the interviews.

The other big change is Reddit. I was working through Brandon's posts in reverse chronological order, and I discovered that Reddit won't let you look past 1000 posts. Based on rough math using Brandon's total karma and average karma per post... he may have around 8000 total comments. That's a lot that I can't see. Thankfully, most of the good stuff comes from topics he's posted, as well, and I can still find all of them, so I can get most of it pretty easily. Here's my new path forward:

  • Go through AMAs, list all comments in chronological order, find Brandon's posts. I've identified three major AMA topics, and I'm halfway through the first.
  • Theoryland has collected Brandon's reddit posts for 2010 through... 2012, I think, and they've got a Reddit Q&A thread or two. I need to pull them all in.
  • Sort Brandon's posts by "top" instead of "new," and see if there's anything I've missed in his top 1000 comments. Also sort by "controversial," but his most controversial posts appear to be from his philosophy, religion, and thoughts on Magic: The Gathering, so most of them probably won't be relevant, either.

So, I've basically assumed that there are five things to do. First is what I've done, 1000 newest posts. Each of the AMA's will probably be large enough to classify as their own thing. And then everything else will be the fifth thing, since no piece should be too large. I've finished the first thing and I'm about halfway through the second thing, so that's why I said 15%. I doubt I'll be able to provide any more granularity than that.

I'll close with one of the WoB's I've tagged as notable, which I'm not sure there has been a lot of discussion about. I think it's neat:

Quote
Q: Both times when Kaladin has had to survive a Highstorm outside, he finds himself in an area of unnatural calm. Is the eye of the Highstorm not entirely in the physical realm? I've had this feeling that the calm area pulls people into Shadesmar, at least a little…
 
A: This is not 100% physical realm.

Source

 

Pagerunner

In my last post, I talked about the kinds of information I'm gathering and how it's structured. But the interface you saw there isn't very conducive to quick browsing – the WoB text field would need to be obscenely wide, there are some fields we don't particularly care about most of the time, and the information was spread across several tabs. Thankfully, there's a better way built into Access to view information in a table: Forms.

In an Access form, you basically view a single row at a time, but spread the fields in that row all over the page. You can make them bigger, you can make them smaller, you can add in text boxes with explanations, you can choose which fields you don't want to display on that particular form. But, at the end of the day, it's still a direct way of getting at the data in a table, it just looks different.

Here's the WoB input form I've been using:

Spoiler

WoB Input Form.PNG

If you look back at the table, which I included in my last post, you'll be able to identify that all the fields and checkboxes in the top part of the form correspond to columns in the table. But that's only half of the form; what's going on with the tags at the bottom of the form?

One other huge thing you can do with forms is create subforms, that will pull in data from a second table that is connected, in some way, to the first table. This lets you look at multiple tables at the same time – absolutely essential, since as I said in the post about the back end, I need work on 8 tables at once when adding WoBs (the WoB database, and the 7 Junction tables). I made subforms for each Junction table, and threw them on the bottom.

So, when I open up the form, I'm looking at a particular line from the WoB table. Each WoB has a unique WoB Number, which is what's referenced in the 7 Junction tables. So, when I set up the subform, I designed it to only include the lines where the WoB ID in the Junction table entry matches the WoB ID in from the WoB table. That means it also brings up every line in every linked table that shares that WoB ID. Access is actually incredibly smart when you know just what to ask it to do, so when I add a new tag in a subform, it automatically includes the WoB ID of the quote I'm looking at on the form at that moment. It makes my job much easier – no need to remember the WoB Number, remember who the quote is about, then open up the WoB/Character table and type in the number and the characters, then go back to the quote and do the same thing for the other tag categories.

So, that lets me get information into to the WoB database in a timely manner. Copy-paste the quote, click a couple checkboxes, put in the sourcing information, and then type in any tags I see. All from one screen. That's all well and good, but how do I get stuff out of it? I can use something called a Query.

A Query will basically build me a new table out of pieces of other tables. I get to say exactly which pieces come along: bring columns A, B, and H, and only bring rows where the date is in 2016. This lets you combine pieces from multiple tables, as long as you properly define the relationship. So, I can also say, bring along the Interview Date column, and for any individual row it would match the Source.

I have a lot of work to do on actual implementation of queries, but I've developed a couple of simple ones so far that are a 'proof of concept,' to show that the database structure will allow for these searches. Here's are two views: first is how I'm telling Access to run that query, which pieces to pull from which tables, and the second is what the query returns. So, here's the Character Search Query:

Spoiler

Character Query.PNG

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Character Query Table.PNG

When I bring up this query, it prompts for a character. When I type in a name (say, Kelsier), it looks through the Character/WoB Junction table, finds all WoB Numbers associated with Kelsier, and then displays information about those WoBs. Right there, every WoB that I've tagged about Kelsier. (It doesn't actually display the character on the final table, since that would be redundant. It just uses it to filter.

But that output sheet is hard to read, isn't it? When I had that problem earlier, with my Tables, I made a Form for easier viewing. Can I do the same thing here? Of course I can! Here's my Character Search Form:

Spoiler

Character Query Form.PNG

This form utilizes an Access function called Split Forms, where half of the form is the original table, and half is the form itself. This can be used to quickly browse through the results, without having to click through each one individually. (Still some functionality to be worked out; I'm thinking of adding a short description for each WoB, something that will fit easily in the table. That will involve a lot of rework, but I'll most likely have to make a second pass through everything, anyways, to double-check my tags.)

One thing you might be wondering about if you're astute and paying attention (nice job!) is the date and the hyperlink. A WoB can have a source from the Source Table, or just an individual hyperlink. The WoB table has a spot for the date, as well; how do I avoid duplicating information?

You're right, those are duplicate fields for anything from a signing, and the Source field isn't important for stuff directly from Twitter or Reddit. For interviews, I leave the Hyperlink and Date empty for the individual WoBs; that information is taken care of by the Source. For stuff from social media, I made an entry in the data table for "N/A," because I had problems with an early query when I left that field blank. I wanted to leave all WoB's, social media and signings, all in the same table; otherwise, each WoB wouldn't have its own unique WoB number. (There'd be Reddit/Twitter Row #1, and Interview/Signing Row #1).

When I run a query, though, I can combine these columns into a single field. In Excel (which I'm sure more of you are familiar with), you have all these calculations available to you. In Access, calculated fields are very bad to have in tables (although they are possible), because if you change information the other data might not automatically update correctly. But, when we run a query, we're building it fresh every time, so I design a query to look at the WoB Type and then choose whether to look at the WoB's date or the Source's date.

I've done the same thing for the hyperlink, but it doesn't work right. Hyperlinks are apparently a wonky kind of data in Access, and don't play well with calculations. I'm looking into a 'combined query,' where you can pull two separate lists and then add them together, as long as their column types match. So, I can pull a query for Reddit/Twitter with the individual date, run a query for Interview/Signing with source date, and then just stick the query results together end-to-end. That wouldn't use a calculated cell, so the hyperlink should work. I think.

There's a lot up in the air with queries and interfaces. The reasons for this are twofold: advanced queries require coding experience I don't have, and I'm not sure how well these queries would carry over if I find a suitable method of sharing this database.

First, advanced queries. Obviously, I'd want to be able to say 'show me everything about Vasher in the Stormlight Archive,' if I'm looking for what Brandon has said about Vasher on Roshar. I could throw in all the parameters into a single query, but then there would be, like, a dozen prompts for each search, which is way too many keystrokes to be reasonable, and I'd have to include instructions on how to fill in the prompts to not filter that column. I could design individual queries for each combination... but that's 7*6/2 = 21 different combinations. And then there's a triple intersection, which has 35 combinations. Quadruple also has 35, and the pattern reverses from there, so that would be 64 queries. But, each of those queries would need to have the ability to filter archived posts, RAFOd posts, Conflux posts... it gets messy. Access lets you write and run code, which I'd probably  use to take the first option (a ton of prompts) and have Access do all the work (of filling in those prompts based on which boxes you check on a form). (Like I said above, it's very good at doing what you ask it to, as long as you know how to ask. I don't know how to ask it to do what I want. I know how to ask people to do it on their own when they search, but it's too much work. Access won't complain about having to do all those clicks, but I know you all will. No offense.) Only thing is, I don't know how to code, so VBScript is 100% unfamiliar to me. I'm sure there are tools to learn online, but that's a big time commitment. I'll save it for later, but if you can use Microsoft VBCode, feel free to reach out to me.

But the second reason is, even if I get an advanced search query operational, I don't know if it will carry over if I find a way to share the database. Access itself can publish a database as a web app (I don't have anywhere to host it right now, which is a separate problem), but it doesn't appear to have the exact same functionality with regards to forms and queries. I might also look into a third-party database software that can import stuff from Excel, in which case the back end will probably look very similar (it's just tables!), but the front end (forms and queries) might be drastically different. Whatever solution I might be able to come up with for a working desktop database, I might have to redo completely for an online implementation. And, if I don't get anything online, if it turns into my personal repository, I don't need this particular functionality; I'm very comfortable with the filtering, like in Excel, so I know how to do everything I want to do.

But the functionality is possible, which is what's important for now. The input form, that's something only I'm getting a ton of use out of building the database in Access, so it's paid for itself already in time savings. I know that, wherever the database winds up, there will be the ability to query it, but I'm waiting to do a lot of the detailed query work until I get to a point I'm evaluating how to bring the database online.

Part of me hopes that I use existing Access forms and queries in my final solution. At my job, I interact with my company's central database, which has obscene amounts of data in it (thousands of tables and reports), and I've seen a lot of really cool functionality. It's not Access, it's something much more powerful, but it's phenomenally easy to navigate between financial transactions, asset structure, and maintenance scheduling, all by just clicking on fields. As an engineer, and not an IT guy, I find moving around this massive, massive database is... well, it's still a pain at times, but I'm getting better, and I could easily see how it would be a lot worse. For Access, I know you can tell it to do stuff when you click on a field or push a button; I would need to learn a lot about coding stuff to utilize that functionality effectively.

Part of me hopes I find something that does it all for me. Because that's a lot to learn. And I have enough to learn already. Even a lot to unlearn; at work, I've used Microsoft InfoPath to add and interact with some data before. InfoPath basically lets you make forms, it's all front-end, and all the functionality is buttons and what happens when a cell gets populated, so it was very easy to make buttons and commands. The coding for that was very simple, but limited to the choices it presented. Also, because it was separate from the tables you were working with, you needed separate commands to call data to view or to submit data to a table. So, it was a paradigm shift for me in Access, because there's no middle step, when you open a form you're directly editing the data. But Access also is much hard to get buttons to do exactly what you want, since they all do it in VBCode. Very powerful if you know what you're doing, but InfoPath was better for me as a fairly uninitated user.

Okay, that's enough of me rambling. The front end isn't as well developed as the back end, but that's intentional. I'll probably need lots of time to get it where I want it to be, or maybe find someone much more knowledgeable than me. For now, I can put data in and get data out, but I'd want it to be much easier to do the latter if I find a way to make this publicly available.

Pagerunner

So, let's learn some more details about exactly what I'm gathering and how I'm structuring it. First, we'll start with the actual tables and relationships that I used to construct the database. (A Microsoft Access database is, at its core, a collection of tables. Lines from the different tables can be linked together, to reflect connections among those tables. Microsoft actually provides some pretty good training videos, if you don't know anything about Access. )

So, the centerpiece of the database is the WoB Table, which stores the quote itself. It also holds several other pieces of information, namely the type (Reddit, Twitter, Signing, Interview, and Signed Book are the five Types I have now), the date, and the hyperlink. (For some, but not all. More on that later.) Here's an image of the table, split into two parts because it's wide.

Spoiler

WoB Table 1.PNG

 

WoB Table 2.PNG

So, you can see it's a lot like Microsoft Excel. A big difference is that there are some check boxes, a data type that I'll be able to use for a couple of all-purpose filters.

  • RAFO - marked if a question is only answered with a RAFO. Still want to document it, but want the ability to exclude them from searches.
  • Conflux - this is more of a personal filter. I don't particularly like coming across all these "what if you Awakened a fabrial" questions, so I want the ability to filter them out. This might not actually go anywhere, but it's easier to build in from the get-go, rather than try and add it after the fact.
  • Paraphrase - mark if the text of a WoB is paraphrased
  • Juicy? - again, more of a personal filter, for quotes that I feel everyone should be aware of. I'll probably call these "Notable" WoBs when I get a better interface, but I'm a little afraid to try and rename columns at this moment.
  • Archive - there are a lot of old questions that were great when they were asked, but aren't so important right now. I won't want to delete these going forwards, but I would like a way to mark them.

The other data fields you see are mostly about sources. There are two fields (date, hyperlink) that each entry has. But, wouldn't that get tedious, if I'm adding from a signing, where there are 100 questions that all have the same date/time? It certainly would be, and that's what the Event field is for. When I click on that field, it actually brings up a drop-down list of another table: the Sources Table.

Spoiler

Sources Table.PNG

This table has a line for each signing, its date, and the hyperlink to the forum link for that signing. (And a couple of housekeeping fields I'm using to keep track of things.) By connecting a WoB to a Tour, I can avoid repetitious data entry, and also have a nice way to identify all WoBs from a particular event.

The last field I haven't talked about in the WoB table is "Keywords." You may have noticed it looks a little empty, with good reason. It's just a catch-all field for stuff that doesn't fit in any of the other seven tables.

That's right, there are seven other tables.

But these tables are pretty simple; they're really just lists. They only have one column apiece. Here's the Character Table.

Spoiler

Character Table.PNG

So, not too bad, it's just a catalogue of characters who I'd like to use as tags for WoBs. (I'm adding as I go, so there are still a lot of characters missing.) But these connections are not as simple as the sources; I can't just use a single column in the WoB table, since you can have multiple people for each WoB. This is taken care of with a Junction Table for Characters and WoBs, which categorizes every single connection that can be made between WoBs and Characters.

Spoiler

WoB-Character Cross Reference.PNG

So, this table shows that WoB 1 is just about Kelsier, WoB 2 and 3 aren't about any particular characters, and WoB 4 is about both Kelsier and Marsh.

This lets me assign a whole mess of tags to any given WoB, while maintaining a structure and not leaving the Keywords field super cluttered up. It also lets me ensure that I'm being consistent with tagging - am I can't tag Wax as Waxilium, 'cause it's not in the table.

So, that's one category of tags I'm using to divide up the WoBs. The other six are: Groups (like organizations or countries), Magic (systems and other manifestations), Realmatics (for topics about the underlying philosophy of magic), Planets (for worldbuilding and history), Series (a broad category, to pull together, say, all the Stormlight WoBs; includes Crossovers as an option), and Shards (which includes Adonalsium). The Keywords field from the WoB table isn't structured the same way; it's just a field you can type whatever you want into. I'm thinking about making a Miscellaneous category, for stuff like Future Plans and Languages, but for now I'll just leave it as it is. (Incidentally, the Groups and Realmatics were late additions; I had been adding stuff like Cognitive Shadows and Worldhoppers as Keywords, but there were a lot of them, so I decided they needed their own structure.)

Each of these tables has its own Junction table. And, yes, that turns into a lot of tables. Here's the total arrangement of all relationships and tables in the database:

Spoiler

Relationships.PNG

In the center, you see the main WoB table. Around it are the junction tables (which will connect a particular WoB with specific items in the tag tables), and then the tag tables themselves. The lines represent relationships, where the values on the "1" side are used for the cells on the "infinity" side.

If you're anything like me, you start seeing all these other connections between tag tables. I can say which Magic systems come from which worlds and which Shards, say which Characters appear in each series, etc. Which could be a fun exercise in database design... but, ultimately, they don't help me organize WoBs, so there's no good reason to spend time building them.

But, still, that works out to 16 tables to take and categorize the WoBs. It's a lot, but if you remember at the top, I called this the Back End. This is all the behind-the-scenes structure. Actually getting at the data looks very different, 'cause I don't want to have to tab through a dozen different tables for a single WoB, and this isn't intuitive for using. That's for the Front End, which I'll talk about in another post. And it looks a lot simpler, don't worry.

Pagerunner

Here We Go

Hey, I've made a blog, and it has a very specific purpose in mind. I'm been toying around with creating my own Word of Brandon database for about a year to collect cosmere-related tidbits, and I finally got the ball rolling in some key ways and like what's going on with it. I'm gonna try and use this blog to make monthly updates, for two reasons:

  1. Structured updates are a great way to make sure I keep working on a project, and if anyone's interested in following/helping it can give them an eye into what I'm doing.
  2. Talking something out often helps me in problem solving, so I might post a problem I'm having just to air it out, even if I don't actually expect to get any help. (It's the way I theorize, as well.)

So, scope of the project.

  • Phase 1 was building a structure that, first and foremost, can assist with theorizing. I had toyed around with Microsoft Excel, or using a wiki (like actually on the Coppermind), but I settled on a Microsoft Access database. I like the way it's letting me use tags and searches, and I've got a database structure that really works for me to parse WoBs in many different ways and potentially provide a lot of end-user functionality. I won't go into detail yet about the structure and what I would like the interfaces to look like; for now, I have tables and relationships arranged the way I like, and a good data entry sheet that allows me to efficiently add, source, and tag WoBs. I'll worry about getting the data out of Access later on.
  • Phase 2 is data collection. Theoryland is going to be incredibly useful, but I'm focusing right now on the stuff that they don't have, Brandon's social media. We've got years of Twitter and Reddit backlogs, which I'd like to get in a format that is concise and removes the *chaff* of status updates and fan interactions. (I actually really enjoy reading them, don't get me wrong, but this database is supposed to be a theorizing tool, so they don't belong here.) The only way to do this is go through, manually, and copy-paste each quote into the database and add tags. It's somewhat slow going, but right now, I can go faster than 1 per minute when I'm focused. (Most of the time, I'll be eating or watching football, so it doesn't have my 100% attention.). Right now, Phase 2a is Reddit, Phase 2b is Twiter, Phase 2c is Theoryland.
  • Phase 3 is publication, and will probably begin during Phase 2b. It will be investigating how to share this database. I'm not doing this just for myself (although I do enjoy reading through WoBs, and have actually learned a lot from the little work I've done on actual data collection), I'd like to make the database available in some form to everyone. However, I don't know if most people will have Microsoft Access, and there's no free online version like Word, Excel, etc., so I'll have to do some research in ways to 1) get the database in a form I can share and 2) make useful ways to quickly and efficiently execute searches.
  • Phases 4, 5, and 6... I have ideas that go beyond WoBs, to include cross-referencing with theories and questions. But they won't be useful without Phase 3, and they would need community buy-in, so let's cross that bridge if we get there.

Right now, I'm beginning work on Phase 2. (I have a little bit of rework on Phase 1, but it should be easy, I'm just creating a couple new tag categories.) I'll mostly be working on Reddit, but I'll be jumping around, since I am actively using the database as well and would like to get the AU tours in. My monthly progress updates will be against 3 metrics: Reddit Progress, Twitter Progress, and Theoryland Progress.

  • Reddit, I unfortunately don't have a goalpost, since I don't know how many posts Brandon has made, but I'm steadily working backwards. So, this metric will be how far back I have gone in. I will be including new posts he makes, probably on a daily basis, and then going back to the archive.
  • Twitter, there are 93 months of backlog. His assistant Adam maintains Tweet Archives, which is going to be unbelievably helpful, so I'll mostly be adding tags. I'll be staying up-to-date, so this metric will be months of backlog I have gone through. This will probably go in chronological order, start at the beginning and go forwards, and should go pretty quick, since it seems it's promotional links and status updates that are mostly on Twitter, as opposed to the deeper questions on Reddit.
  • Theoryland, I'm cataloging how many of their entries are relevant to the cosmere. I want to have numbers and links, in case anyone actually wants to help, so I'm gonna do a quick review to get the actual number of Theoryland interviews (not actual entries, but signing/interview entries) that have relevance to the cosmere. My rough estimate is that they have 600 interviews with Brandon; likely, many of them either are author-related stuff (no cosmere bits) or Wheel of Time related, so the actual number of sources I'll have in my database will be smaller. And I don't want to use Theoryland as a primary source (except for signing reports that literally don't exist anywhere else), but try to go directly to the Signings forum here. But, first things first, I need to see how many of them I'll be drawing from.

So, here's my first progress update:

  • Reddit, Nov 2016
  • Twitter, 0/93
  • Theoryland, 0/600?

So, yeah, no idea how long I think this will take me. I would like to get onto Phase 3 before Oathbringer is released, but I literally have no experience in judging this. So, we'll see. And welcome along for the ride!

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