New York Times API Search Tool



Code for this project can be seen on GitHub.

The assignment for the week was to use the New York Times API in order to chart a cultural shift over time. I initially chose to track the terms “payphone” vs “cellphone” to try to see the moment in time in which cellphones made payphones obsolete.

For how simple this result is, I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the coding process for some reason. One big sticking point was the need to combine the date ranges for both sets of data into one complete range that would encompass both. The solution was to take one of the search terms’ date ranges, add it to an ArrayList, comb the other term’s range for dates that aren’t duplicates, use a little Java (the Collections class) to sort the combined results, and then re-export that out to a String array.

At one point, I was getting a complete graphing for “payphone” but an incomplete graphing for “cellphone” (it would only draw the results for 2oo6 and 2007, even though some debug efforts were showing that the data was still there for other years). After trying many many things and wasting lots of time to no avail, I eventually realized that the culprit was using the “==” operator instead of “.equals()” for a String array. I ALWAYS forget about this and my lazy side wishes that Processing would just let you get away with the former option. What I don’t understand is why the first result set still graphed correctly and why only the second was affected – I was using the same display code for both.

Eventually, I got it working and took the screenshot above. I found the results kind of boring, so then I set about making the program modular so that you can define whatever two strings you want at the beginning of the code and the graph scale and date range will adjust itself accordingly. When I accomplished that, I took some screenshots of some more visually interesting results:



Strange how “cassette” briefly resurfaces in 1998. I wonder if some alternate use for the term came up?



This one shows you a president sandwich. I thought it looked neat.

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