Database design suggestions

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J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Jan 25 2020 10:29 AM

Recently I've been thinking of creating a relational database around theological and philosophical categories. Designing a database around, say, item inventory and customers seems easy enough, but I've been finding it more difficult to think about how to lay out a relational database around theological or philosophical issues (I've been working with MySQL).

In the past I've used mind-mapping software for this sort of stuff. For example, I might have something like this:

We could parse out types of complementarianism and egalitarianism along weak/soft vs strong/hard lines, but probably not more than that (as far as I know... I've never looked closely at this issue).

So, to me, it doesn't make much sense to create a database where "Soft complementarianism" is a primary key. Having a table with theologians as a primary key seems obvious, but then would I create a field for each issue--the issues being foreign keys? How relevant Bible texts fit into the table would be another question.

I assume Faithlife and journals already have databases of some kind for something like this. Any tips from those with more experience in database design or who simply have better organization skills than me? Smile

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 25 2020 11:07 AM

A few comments.

Databases are always relative to their proposed use, as you know. And unplanned use is a critical issue (teeth-pulling re-designs).

Your discussion appears to be a preference for 1-way relations, which tend to be brittle and error-prone. In your example, an author might have some of each.

My Bible-analytical data is all 2-way, with strengths/weights specific to each direction. The software can then adapt the structure relative to the weights. For example, a theological analysis of Isaiah (1 author or 3) and another for Jeremiah uses the same data structure, but the software can draw completely different relational dependencies.  This avoids forcing a mindset over the data/author. It also allows for time-shifts, and Bayesian applications.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 25 2020 12:45 PM

I'd go back and think about the logic that the structure implies - most theological positions represent a continuum rather than a simple true/false value.I would consider the needs of doxastic logic in your data design. Also remember that individual theologian's position on the continuum generally changes over time. Furthermore, many theological debates are actually differences in terminology or cultural symbols not actual theological differences.

So listen to Denise ... at some point you'll be forced into considering Bayesian processing.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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GaoLu | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 25 2020 2:44 PM

Perhaps animated jiggling bubbles on a bubble chart could allow some dynamics of a theologians thought variation along a continuum, yet indicate a generalized position and bubble size could express breadth of diversity.  Jiggliness could indicate waffle-factor.  

Posts 542
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 25 2020 2:53 PM

I know that *sounds* like a good idea, GaoLu, but it could end badly:

Thanks for the suggestions all. As for shifting: I'd just to add a source field where the theologians espouses the position.

Potato resting atop 2020 Mac Pro stand.

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