Cool Toys Pic of the day – Google Books NGram

Google Books: Ngram Viewer:
http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/

Is it cheating to blog new Google tools two days in a row? After all,
it is just too easy to do sometimes. However, sometimes it is also
just too interesting and appropriate. Not to mention that I am
still avoiding blogging about the Delicious debacle or any
tools associated with it.

Today what came to my attention was Google’s data visualization tool
for analysing and comparing word patterns in the scanned corpus of
literature from 1800 to 2000. The first time I heard about it was from
Scott Hanley who was intrigued by regular patterns he observed among frequency of common terms.

I started trying to think of significant combinations of words to
compare. Shakespeare vs the Bible didn’t work. The Bible was so huge,
I couldn’t even see Shakespeare. Anatomical terms are always fun, and
as an ex-dentistry librarian I am always curious about head & neck
anatomy words. To my surprise, tongue is declining, mouth is dropping
drastically, teeth are trending upwards, but jaw holds steady over
time. Not surprisingly, eyes are very popular. Then I thought of
something serious & worthy, persuasive to me of the potential for
serious research with this tool, or the validity of creating
assignments asking students to explore metrics and supporting
literature for important word/concept pairs, justifying observed
trends.

Books
Libraries
Technology
Computers

Books are huge, huge, huge, until the 1940s when they start to dip,
slightly, and then more.
Libraries are a small but steady presence, growing in influence
gradually and slowly, and peaking in the 1970s. Even so, with that
decline, right now they are still more popular than at any time in
history before the 1920s.
Computers don’t show up until the mid-50s, surpassing libraries in the
early 80s.
Technology surged and declined in the early 1900s, beginning a second
dramatic climb in the 1930s, steadily and gracefully surging upwards
and upwards, crossing the line for libraries in 1960 and that for
books in 1985, and just now reaching its crest, and preparing to
decline.

Absolutely bloomin-lootly fascinating.

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