What is KWIC? It stands for Key Word In Context.

KWIC was my first forray into cataloging my photos. This was probably back in the early '80s. I didn't have very many photos (only a "few thousand"), and I thought this might be a way to go. Basically, you create a text file that is a description of each picture, then you run it through a relatively simple computer program that builds a KWIC file from the text file.

Here's a very simple example text file. The first column is my picture identifier (year, month, day, image sequence), followed by the description.

800301-01 David playing tennis
800301-02 Sam playing tennis
800302-01 Rainbow over Lake Wenatchee

The KWIC program duplicates and rearranges each line, then sorts everything and creates a new file. Some words (for example, "and", "the", maybe "over") are ignored. We then have something like this.

800301-01 >>David playing tennis
800302-01 Lake Wenatchee >>Rainbow over
800301-01 playing tennis >>David
800301-02 playing tennis >>Sam
800302-01 >>Rainbow over Lake Wenatchee
800301-02 >>Sam playing tennis
800301-01 tennis >>David playing
800301-02 tennis >>Sam playing
800302-01 Wenatchee >>Rainbow over Lake

Each line has been repeated once for each significant work in the line. Then everything has been sorted. Notice the ">>" that has been added to each line. That's to show where the line begins. Now you can simply scan this alphabetical list to find, for example, "Lake" or "tennis", and refer to the beginning of the line to find what image(s) that term is attached to.

Simple concept, but it gets unwieldy very quickly. It was an interesting experiment, but I gave it up after I had entered descriptions for a few hundred of my photographs!