Pazz & Jop Bonus #1: The Wonderful World Of Needle
So Pazz & Jop 2009 is finally up, with lots of fine essays (dig Chuck Eddy's especially), comments, and statistical ephemera to sift through. Congratulations are in order to Jay-Z, Animal Collective, and Voice house stats guru/savior Glenn McDonald, because without him none of this would've been possible. Let us now take a spin through Needle, Glenn's wondrous stats-generating machine.
To let Glenn explain:
For decades, the editors and interns at the Voice have fought against their data with heroic, excruciating human effort: scan the lists over and over again, trying to notice and fix every error and discrepancy, one vote at a time. The computers have stood by, bearing mute witness to their suffering. This is pathetic, unnecessary and inexcusable . . . This year we dumped all the ballots into Needle, and 1 person reconciled albums, songs, artists and labels, including matching up album-artists with song-artists, and 2009 albums/songs/artists/labels with those from 2008, in about six working hours, with most of even that much time spent in the human task of researching what the correct names and titles were supposed to be. Easy human work to make easy human decisions. In Needle terms this is a small data-set and a small project. In human terms, as Voice music editor Rob Harvilla put it, "this is nothing short of miraculous".
Yeah, I said that. Plus it's got a bunch of other rad stathead stuff: The centricity index (showing who came closest to voting for all 10 of the Top 10 records), the name-variation list (showing the 51 different ways people wrote Raekwon's Cuban Linx II, for example), the metal voters (peace to Shawn Bosler), the favorite albums among people who didn't vote for singles (peace to Rosanne Cash), the album chart's Enthusiasm Index (people who love The-Dream really love The-Dream), etc. Play around with this thing. It is totally rad.