Arcanum, the Brandon Sanderson Archive, Is Here!


Hey everyone! It’s finally the day we have all been waiting fo-- Oh wait. No, not that day. You still have to wait a week for Oathbringer. But it is the day that I have been working towards for a couple years now. The idea that it is finally out is a tiny bit terrifying, but Harmony is it exciting as well.

Before we get into it, we should all thank Theoryland and all those who contributed to their database. They have done a great service to our fandom. We just wanted something more tailored to us, with more features and active development.

Here it is. Arcanum, the Brandon Sanderson Archive:

https://wob.coppermind.net 

Take a look. There are over 7,700 entries in there. 

We did not simply copy and paste a bunch of text from the old Theoryland database. We hunted down audio from many years back and put it into our new system. The result is this for any audio we have found:

arcanumentry.png

You can press play on any entry and get the audio of that exact moment. No longer will you have to take it on someone's word on what Brandon said; you can just press play and listen to it!

In the process of getting all these audio sources into Arcanum, we found that there were mistakes in some old transcriptions, or things that were never transcribed at all, existing only in heavily paraphrased form. As such we have worked hard to ensure the accuracy of everything that has been inputted into Arcanum. This is trickier than it may sound, as while our brains are good at registering the meaning of what someone is saying, they aren’t always so good at remembering the exact phrasing. If the transcriber is not careful, those mistakes can add up to the opposite of whatever was intended.

Our goal is to have a centralized place where everyone can reliably find all audio and all quotes for many years to come, and do so in such a way that we can have these quotes be as accurate as we can get. WoBs for which we don't have audio (or are directly written by Brandon) are always marked as paraphrased, so you won't have to guess which things are accurate and which are not. Audio is the best way we can ensure accuracy, and so we put it front and center. 

(One note on Words of Brandon: signing lines can be very long, and Brandon's memory is not perfect. Brandon can make mistakes. Brandon can also change his mind when actually writing a book, instead of just talking about it. We do try to denote things like this whenever we catch them, but, at the end of the day, the books are the true sources.)

What's in Arcanum right now?

It has been a massive undertaking for our small team to import every WoB ever and update things to our new standards with transcriptions. We have a ton of WoBs--over 7,700 of them. A lot of this is from Theoryland, but there’s a good chunk that is brand-new stuff which is not. 

We have:

  • Every annotation for the main books, including those for The Way of Kings 
  • Every relevant quote from Reddit and Twitter we could find
  • Everything from 2014 to the present is fully imported*

That includes several events where the full transcriptions were never made available, which include some never-seen-before WoBs:

We are not yet finished importing everything from Theoryland, but we wanted to make sure that Arcanum was live and ready to go for the release of Oathbringer. We focused on events 2014 and forward as that was the point where the WoB situation began to deteriorate and things started to become harder to find.

We do have various things from before 2014, most notably the annotations. We also have the A Memory of Light tour in (the Brandon related stuff, not the Wheel of Time stuff, which we are not importing), much of the Steelheart tour, and much of the Alloy of Law tour. We also have some very old, yet foundational events like the Hero of Ages TWG Q&A (where we learned about Shards for the first time), the Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A, and other text events. 

All said, we needed our Arcanists to transcribe things and we decided to spend our efforts on new things. After the Oathbringer tour we will get these older years inputted, and when there is audio, get it into our new format. 

If you're wondering whether Arcanum replaces Theoryland, the answer is yes, but on some very old things, we aren't going to do it just like Theoryland did. Theoryland made an event for every one of Brandon's blogs in the beginning, and we are not doing this. Many of Brandon's blogs are updates, announcements, and other things that are not important to search. We are just grabbing the parts of Brandon's blogs that are relevant. There are also a lot of interviews that Brandon did with media outlets that is more of a promotional nature and aren't important for Arcanum. 

Long story short, we will finish the project of getting everything relevant from Theoryland to Arcanum, but we felt you still should get Arcanum now, because we can wait a bit on some of the older Theoryland stuff being imported. 

(*There are some events that have general Q&As which are not transcribed yet, but those contain very little relevant information. We will get them in soon.)

Other Big Improvements on Theoryland

Arcanum has made big strides over Theoryland in usability. Arcanum has a totally responsive design, so it works great on your phone or desktop. 

Search

Searching functionally on Theoryland, or rather the lack thereof, has become an unfortunate meme in the fandom in recent years. As such we’ve made sure our search works. We’ve also made sure to include options to give you more control to fine-tune the results you get.

Citations

In Theoryland it’s not immediately obvious how to link directly to an entry. For Arcanum we’ve made sure that it's easy to grab a citation, just click that Share link for the direct URL for the entry. You also get this link even in the search results page.

How to help

One of our primary goals with Arcanum is to make the transcribing process and input process are transparent, rather than be a mysterious cabal of people who input stuff into Theoryland at a very slow pace. And we need your help, too.

The biggest help you can be is if you have a recording of a signing or something Brandon said, upload it! This was why we worked so hard to get Arcanum ready for the Oathbringer tour, so we are no longer in the Shadowdays where audio was hidden in random places. We can now have audio in one centralized location where we can transcribe it. 

Do you have audio? Adding it is easy! Go find the relevant event--we have most events made except very old one; Oathbringer tour events are already added--and on the upper right of the event, click "Upload Sources". Easy! If you get new audio on the Oathbringer tour, don't delay, let's get it into Arcanum so we can transcribe it immediately. If you have old audio from years past, we'd also love to see get that, too! 

Right now our Arcanist team has done transcribing efforts, and they are awesome and fast. But our plan was always to let the general public assist in transcribing too. This functionality is currently been the top programming priority, but it isn't ready right now. At the very least, you can upload audio. Stay tuned in our Arcanum forum or our Arcanum channel in Discord, and help coordinate event audio and transcription efforts there!

Arcanum is a community effort. We can't do this without you. We hope with your help the Oathbringer tour will go smoothly and we'll get new information to you sooner than ever.

In 2018, our software will go open source and if you're a web developer, you can go contribute there! If you're in another fandom and you'd like a system like this, you'll be able to make your own installation of it.

Credits

Arcanum has been in the works, in one form or another,  for over two and a half years now. We're thrilled (and terrified) that you all finally get to see it, and we hope it will be everything you wanted it to be.

We want to tell you everyone on the team.

Our administrative consists of me, Mestiv, and Chaos. I suppose I'm ultimately in charge of this project, and I've transcribed a ton of things. Mestiv is our amazing coder who suggested all of this audio stuff, which changed everything. He's a rock star, and is the real hero. Chaos does a lot of the managerial work keeping everything organized. He also headed up the design team, and helped whip our Arcanists in the right direction to get things ready for launch.

Special thanks to Joe_ST, who coded a previous incarnation of our WoB archive and always has sensible suggestions to improve things. Without Joe, we never could have gotten here. 

Our Arcanists:

We invited a bunch of people who provided input, bug testing, and most importantly, worked their butts off inputting and transcribing things. 

Argent
Blightsong
Calderis
Comatose
Dragon13
Extesian
jofwu
Kandra
Kurkistan
Oversleep
Pagerunner
Windrunner

Some special thanks: jofwu is a god at transcribing difficult audio (don't listen to the Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken audio unless you want to cry), Argent is an absolute machine of work-ethic and did so much, and somehow Calderis did all his Arcanum work on his phone
Last, but not least, thank you KChan for the beautiful logo, and moru for design help!

We really hope you love Arcanum. There's still plenty of work to do on it, but it's amazing.

Best,
The Arcanum Team

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User Feedback




I'm speechless... Thank you all. This will be most helpful.

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lyht

Posted

This is awesome! Thanks to everyone that worked so hard on this! You guys are the best!

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Way too excited for this. But it'll keep me busy until Oathbringer is released! 

Man, my productivity at work is going to take a dive...

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Ookla the Indivergable

Posted (edited)

I posted this in the wrong forum, so here it is

I'd like to step in to raise some toasts here. Quite a few people contributed significant amounts of time to this...masterpiece of Cosmerology. I feel like it's dominated my minimal spare time for a while but I was a later and lesser contributor (and helping was something I was both honored and duty-bound to do given my WoBsession). Sharders we all know and love like Jofwu, Kurkistan, Windrunner, Calderis, Blightsong, Oversleep. Particular praise to Pagerunner and Argent for their outsized contributions. Unsurprisingly Chaos is magnificent, delegating like a demon and pulling endless long nights, working on this thing long, long before I was even a member of this site. (And my involvement with this is recent so forgive me if I've under-credited people). I may have contributed a bit but I'll get so much more out of Arcanum than I could ever give to it. Many of you know my WoBsession and this transforms the ability to gain a black belt in WoBfu.
 
But my endless thanks for truly making this Wonderland of WoBs happen go to two people. Firstly, Mestiv. The Codebringer. He has done so much in making this dream happen. I don't speak code but I understand what he's done is not easy and I know the results are beautiful. He has enabled our addiction. And, this cannot be emphasised enough - he's not even a WoB fiend. He did this for the community, for you. What a guy.
 
But my endless gratitude, admiration and love are for Weiry. the Master of WoBs, a guy I looked up to even before I realized the scope of this and his part in it. He made this happen. Since long before i was a member of this site he plotted and planned, and of course WoBbed. He put in the work. He had the vision. This was his Citizen Kane. For years and years from now, when you can learn the Cosmere more easily, you have Weiry to thank. He's my hero, and he'd better be your storming hero too.
 
So go! WoB like you've never WoBbed before. Browse over seven THOUSAND WoBs, many never before seen, with full sources. If you've ever wondered where that WoB is you swear you remember, it's here. If you've ever wondered about Brandon's intonation in that doubtful WoB, or wanted to hear his hilarious reaction to bizarre theories (e.g. Wayne stole a Returned Horse), the audio snippet awaits. If you're obsessed with a particular topic and want to research it, it's one search away. 
 
So go! Enjoy the labor of love of many, inspired by one. Soak it up.
 
So go. Dance with the WoBs.
Edited by Extesian
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58 minutes ago, Pagerunner said:

Of all the WoBs to show as an example, you picked that one?

Gotta admit, I didn't read too carefully on the thing I picked xD 

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Also @Chaos is there still a plan to highlight the WoBs that have never been seen by most of us before? I am really looking forward to that, but not so much to the sorting through 7k WoBs no matters how much info I'd glean.

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2 minutes ago, The Invested Beard said:

Also @Chaos is there still a plan to highlight the WoBs that have never been seen by most of us before? I am really looking forward to that, but not so much to the sorting through 7k WoBs no matters how much info I'd glean.

They are pretty much all in the events linked above, which had new audio. The only other rare ones I can think of would be in social media, which each have their own yearly event. (There are some especially good TWG bits, if I do say so myself.)

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1 minute ago, Pagerunner said:

They are pretty much all in the events linked above, which had new audio. The only other rare ones I can think of would be in social media, which each have their own yearly event. (There are some especially good TWG bits, if I do say so myself.)

Sorry about that, when I first read the original post it didn't have that bit. Shame on me for being too eager. :D

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It looks like there's a Signup option. Are those new accounts, or are they related to these 17th Shard Forum accounts?

Obviously we don't need an account to search the Arcanum, but I assume that's what will be used if we contribute.

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2 minutes ago, Govir said:

It looks like there's a Signup option. Are those new accounts, or are they related to these 17th Shard Forum accounts?

Obviously we don't need an account to search the Arcanum, but I assume that's what will be used if we contribute.

This was also my question.

On topic: THIS IS AMAZING AND EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU WHO CONTRIBUTED ARE MY STORMING HEROES!

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Bcknight2

Posted (edited)

This is great!

It's good to know why a couple of people were marked as 'Arcanists'. I was beginning to think there was a Kingkiller section of the shard....

But I'm confused as to why you would mark Brandon's Reddit comments and such as 'paraphrased'.

I would consider the wording of anything he typed and posted more accurate than the phrasing he uses off the top of his head at a signing.

 

Edited by Bcknight2
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Just now, Bcknight2 said:

But I'm confused as to why you would mark Brandon's Reddit comments and such as 'paraphrased'....

 

My guess: Online posts can be edited/deleted whereas when we have audio recordings they are always available. Maybe if we took screenshots of each reddit/social media comment at the time it is transcribed and uploaded that it could be deemed non-paraphrased.

Just a guess.

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Kurkistan

Posted

14 minutes ago, Bcknight2 said:

This is great!

It's good to know why a couple of people were marked as 'Arcanists'. I was beginning to think there was a Kingkiller section of the shard....

But I'm confused as to why you would mark Brandon's Reddit comments and such as 'paraphrased'.

I would consider the wording of anything he typed and posted more accurate than the phrasing he uses off the top of his head at a signing.

 

We don't, so far as I know. See Weiry's "WoBs for which we don't have audio (or are directly written by Brandon) are always marked as paraphrased..." bit. If there's a "paraphrased" reddit comment drop us a link and we can fix it.

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Bcknight2

Posted (edited)

Ok... I just misinterpreted what was written there.

That read, to me, like things that don't have an audio source including comments directly written by Brandon are marked as paraphrased.

But I see from browsing the site that this is definitely not the case. My bad

Edited by Bcknight2
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Ookla The Red

Posted (edited)

The site is amazing, and I can't thank all of you who made it enough. I'm going to try to do my little bit here and post how to make a change I think would improve the site, although I'm sure my explanation will be unnecessary thanks to our phenomenal programmers.

If you go to an event page on the site, such as https://wob.coppermind.net/events/127-salt-lake-city-comiccon-2017/, you'll notice that as you scroll down, the navbar at the top of the page attaches to the top and continues coming down for ease of access. I think this is a phenomenal feature (and I know a lot more work goes into something like this than it seems on the surface), so when someone else mentioned that the event box on the side should do the same, I agreed. I then played around in Inspect Element until I figured out how to make that work, hopefully making things a little easier on our dev team. To do this, you'll need to use JQuery (and therefore JavaScript), but I'd imagine this is already incorporated. The change is minor; it should be 10 lines at most. Basically, you need to add a new function in your JavaScript doc which identifies the div element surrounding the event box, then add a line which uses ".offset()" to find how far down it is on a given user's device and assigns that value to a variable. With that done, you can make a function that will determine whether the window has a ".scrollTop" value of greater than the value of the variable minus n, where n is how much space should be at the top of the page when the effect takes action. If the window does, invoke ".css({'position':'fixed','top':'y','right':'x'})" on the div element, where y and x represent the desired displacement from the top of the screen and right side of the screen respectively. If the window doesn't, reset the position to static. You may want to add a secondary "if" condition to see whether or not the changes have already been made before invoking them again so as the user scrolls further down the attributes aren't continually applied - that would slow the browser and make the div potentially lag.

Again, if there's anything else I can do to help, I'd be happy to.

Edited by Bugsy6912
Clarified some terminology
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This is amazing!!! Thank you for using your private time for something as big and time-consuming as this for the sake of all the fandom! You rock!!!!

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