KWIC : Java Glossary
©1996-2017 2009-05-01 Roedy Green of Canadian Mind Products
KWIC (Keyword In Context)
These massive printed indexes were popular in the days of fanfold paper, punch cards and batch programs and
12 cm (4.72 in)
thick printed listings of an entire body of data printed in a concordance of keywords
where data items are sorted in alphabetical order by keyword, with items with more
than one keyword, generating a line for each keywords. The keywords align vertically
down the middle of the page, with some context either side of how they were used. You
might think of them as rudimentary precursors to the search engines.
For example, presume your raw data consisted of sentences like this:
Lions like to eat gazelles and wildebeest.And you were interested in building a concordance
(aka index) of the animals mentioned in the text, then you could prepare a
KWIC index showing
every keyword of interest in every possible context it which it occurs:
Crocodiles eat wildebeest once a year when the wildebeest cross the rivers.
Gazelles are popular icons for car and computer companies since they suggest
White tigers live mostly in India.
Wild lions live mostly in Africa.
Example KWIC Index
That example is just to give you the general idea. There are many variations
in the details of the presentation and sorting. Today we use search engines and databases to look up just the information
we are interested in. The problem with such KWIC
indexes is they are enormous and consume entire forests to print. People reading them
usually only ever use a tiny fraction of the entire hard copy. It is more efficient
to key the name of the index of interest and have the contexts of interest composed
on the spot, the way Google does. The original line printers could not easily create
highlighting effects. Thus you had to use alignment to help people pick out the
keywords in context. Today you would use bold or colours.
|Concordance of Animals|
||eat wildebeest once a year when the wildebeest cross the rivers.|
|Lions like to eat
||are popular icons for car and computer companies since they suggest
||like to eat gazelles and wildebeest.|
||live mostly in Africa.|
||live mostly in India and zoos.|
|Lions like to eat gazelle and
||once a year when the wildebeest cross the rivers.|
|Crocodiles eat wildebeest once a year when the
||cross the rivers.|