American Society for Indexing: Annual Conference 2021

On April 30, 2021, Peter Rooney and Julia Rooney presented this project at the Annual American Society for Indexing (ASI) Conference. The above video (44 min.) is a recording of the Zoom talk, and discusses background for the project, the conceptual structure and process of making the Index, design of the website and long-term goals for publishing print versions of the Index.

Indexing without a client: The Mueller report
by Peter Rooney

The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing
Volume 39 (2021), Issue 1
Editors: Mary Coe
The International Journal of Indexing, Volume 39, 2021-03-01

 

Abstract

 

After the initial flurry of interest, government reports rarely receive the attention they deserve. Often based on detailed research, the information they contain is largely inaccessible, even when published in digital form, due to the lack of indexes. After briefly examining the extent to which such reports are indexed (and why they are usually not indexed), the background to and publication of the much-anticipated Mueller report on Russian interference in the US 2016 election is outlined. The inadequacies of several independently published editions are considered and the case is made for indexing the report, despite not having been commissioned to undertake this task. The indexing process is outlined, especially dealing with the metatopic, Donald Trump, and the redacted sections, and possible future developments are suggested. The online index is available at https://www.muellerreportindex.net.

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As part of Mia Alvarado's podcast Read Like a Reader, Peter Rooney discussed the idea of the web as an index; how internet searches are “a crude tool;” why authors aren’t the best indexers of their own work; why indexers rely on nouns and try to forego adjectives; what it would be like to make a walkable, installation-sized index; how he reads, and lately what (La Peste).

Listen to interview here.

Making sense of the Mueller report

September 1, 2020. By Mark Chiusano

 

When Peter Rooney looked at the 400-plus page Mueller report he thought: what this thing needs is an index. Rooney, of New York City, is a professional indexer who creates the back-of-book material that helps readers search volumes by name, topic, and the like.

“I thought as a technical problem I would like to make my own index," Rooney told The Point. “But it didn’t turn out to be so quick.”

The project took approximately two months between other work, and Rooney finished this summer.

The result can be seen at www.muellerreportindex.net, where politics junkies will find a map to peruse once again through the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“A little delayed, but maybe this is an ideal time for it to surface,” Rooney says, noting that the country is entering another election in which, according to U.S. intelligence officials, Russia is once again trying to interfere.

Other editions of the report have had indexes of a sort, but Rooney maintains that there are benefits to a fuller index. He describes creating one as a “process of sorting out.” The indexer explains what each mention of Julian Assange involves, for example, from “contacts Trump Jr.” to “use of internet.”

His index includes topics like “willfulness” and “wire fraud” beyond just names.

A long entry for “QUOTES” quickly gathers some of the most important phrases from the report, like “Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions.”

Rooney says he’d liked to improve and update the index if he can.

Mueller himself, by contrast — to the annoyance of many Democrats who have learned more about Russian interference in the intervening months — hasn’t committed to any updating.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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