September 21, 2011

Neat Things: Google Ngrams

Posted in Go, Look, Make tagged , , at 6:08 am by onetinyacorn

Google labs has produced Ngrams, a very awesome, customizable way to chart cultural trends over centuries. I wanted to track the ebb and flow of political ideologies through time, so I input the terms for various political constructs into Ngrams, and it gave me this nifty chart, based on the OCR of its digitized corpus of English-language books (click on image for full-size view):

Politics Ngram

So we see a clear decline in mentions of the term “monarchy” in books since 1800 [I’ve since learned that you can track verbiage back to around 1550!], and a spike in the term “democracy” around World War II. Futher, I can search by decade and term in Google books to locate precise mentions of my specified terms. Think about how interesting it would be to track epidemiological trends this way! You could also run side-by-side comparisons on the same terms in different languages, for a cross-cultural perspective. Dreamy, isn’t it?

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