From Microfiche to Dataset?

This is an attempt to document the triumphs and frustrations of wrangling a dataset from Federal Communication Commission microfiche (dead tree captured on small film) archives. Here’s an example:


TASK: Take 32GB (and counting) of scanned microfiche documents (.jpg images), and extract dates, involved parties, and transaction details for every mobile spectrum license sale or transfer contained in these images.

PURPOSE: The transactions extracted from the microfiche will form part of a larger chronology of mobile spectrum licence trading up to the present day. This history is of particular interest in reflecting on Ronald Coase’s seminal paper from 1959 The Federal Communications Commission, and to examine the allocative efficiency of auctions and lotteries.

The Journey so Far

A journal of things I’ve thought/did/learnt, and problems/issues/complaints I’ve had, in chronological-ish order.

Process Snippets

Scripts, tools and code snippets for future reference:

Lessons for future data wrangling

A list of things that I wish I’d known before trying to wrangle a dataset from the wild.