WNUR Underground Archive Project


While the list of isolated terms provides a unique opportunity to reorganize and reinterpret the words of music directors, there is certainly value to those words as they are used in context. The last Voyant tool I would like to use does just that by visually showing closely located and related words through highlighting. The Terms Berry below offers an alternative to the way connections are typically represented, as a cluster of lines, offers the terms in relative isolation until your curiosity and cursor interact with the term

In this visualization, you can witness more concrete justifications of the claims I made prior.  That words like 'produced' are contextually attached to others like 'steve' by proximity, and so on.

Stepping back a moment from the task at hand, and focusing on the purely visual renderings of Voyant, taking the process of data visualization as less of a means to an end, but rather a process for further discovery - I can not help but notice the way all of the term filled circles begin to look like small records.

As you move your cursor over the terms notice the patterns, the interactions between words made possible by the digital. In a sense, this whole endeavor of digital archiving makes the same possible for the records resting on the shelves of the WNUR archive. Disregarding the specifics of those terms for a moment, and seeing the circles as records, instead of analyzing we can witness how, like each word written by music directors contains context and connection to other words, each record in the WNUR stacks contextually connects to others. The WNUR Rock collection, and the more general knowledge of the music directors who assembled the collection is not unlike this cloud of terms, where each record is somehow connected, by label, by producer, by band member, or simply by sonic equivalent to another. For those who take the time to uncover it, the WNUR rock show collection can be like this visualization - when the name Steve Albini appears, the covers of twelve other records come to mind.

This joy of knowledge is only available to those who truly seek it out, those who spend hours in the stacks reading the backs of covers, or those who dedicated afternoons in record shops followed by hours buried in zines. These are the people who populated college radio station in the 1980s and 1990s, the people who took up the responsibility of attempting to piece together the tangled scene of the outside world into two-hour radio shows. And at the same time, those people were the scene themselves. They were as much a part of that tangled mess as those who made the records, a tangled mess which continues to unravel in the hands of those who care enough to listen and learn.