Representing Anthropological Knowledge: Calculating Kinship
Michael D. Fischer
Analyzing and Understanding Cultural Codes


Kinship Introduction
Learning Kinship with
the Kinship Editor
Use the Kinship Editor
Kinship Editor Results

Kinship Editor Results

However we get our kinship data, from traditional paper and pen or Kinship Editor, it will need to be restructured to do very much with it. The best form to record data rarely is the best form for analyzing it, and in any case, each type of analysis will often want data to be presented in a different way.

Traditionally this has meant a lot of hard work, literally sifting through the data and retranscribing it on to note cards or into a database of some description. Indeed, if your data is already on paper, the Kinship Editor becomes just another way to retranscribe it.

The Kinship Editor keeps its data as XML (eXtended Markup Language), a very flexible way of formally describing complex information. Its power lies in not fixing a format, or even the terms that describe the information, instead being a standard for creating descriptions. So XML is not a format, it is a meta-format; a tool for creating very flexible formats.

Over the next few years XML will become very important, and will offer anthropologists, among others, a means by which information can be both contexualised and shared. At the Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing we are using XML to represent Tibetan Texts, Corsican Magistrate records and ethnographic fieldnotes, among other things.

This section shows how the Kinship Editor data is structured, and gives two examples of how this can be transformed automatically into forms useful for different purposes, in this case a textual report and a representation in a programming language, Prolog, which forms the basis of the second part of this unit.

Next section: Sample Output