Sunday, January 9, 2011

War of Words

There are different ways to chart the ebb and flow of history, and measure the concepts that define the various eras.  Leave it to Google to find another high tech way.

This is the link to a crazy powerful site called Books Ngram Viewer.  Google charted the usage of words in recorded book history to find out how often they occur, and then charts the frequency on a graph.  It gives the user the ability to see visually how some ideas rise and fall over time.  Sounds silly, but here's an example:

This is a chart I created in seconds that compares the appearance of the words 'diversity' (blue line) and 'inclusion' (red line).  Looks like diversity really took off in the late 1980s, and has fallen off since the administration of George the II.

Let's try a single word:  terrorism.

Quite a jump starting in the late 1990s, and a major spike after September 11th.

One more word war:  Franklin Roosevelt vs. John Kennedy:

Interesting how their appearance in books seems to run in a parallel trend.

Anyway, try the site, and stage your own war of words from the safety of your own home.  Boys vs. Girls, Football vs. Baseball vs. Soccer, whatever you want.  Harvard vs. Yale gives a good result.

Thanks to Dan Pink for the head's up on this cool procrastination tool.

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