The Tiny Box Called Today

It’s one thing to live in the present and another to live without a sense of future and past.  If there wasn’t so much going on today, that would be clear.

Culturomics attempts to make things clear by analysis of word usage from over five million books going back more than two centuries.  Of all the words people have bothered to write down, how do the days of the week rate?  That’s just one of many questions you can answer with Google’s Ngram Viewer.

Try ‘ape, con, myth‘ and you find the story of the lowly ape witnessing the slow demise of the con and the rise of the myth.

For something more down to Earth, you can found out who is playing second fiddle between ‘peanut butter, jelly’ and ‘beer, wine‘ or check out the historic temporal attitudes of prose writers with  ‘yesterday, today, tomorrow‘…

Turns out today wasn’t such a big deal in the 1800’s.  …  Nor was life expectancy.

If you come up with a good search, please share it in the comments.

5 Responses

  1. Ape Con Myth
    | Reply

    Start with i, me, mine, then add you, then we and then…

  2. Ben Chatterton
    | Reply

    Countries…here’s one that’s pretty telling: http://goo.gl/8zCOa

  3. Ape Con Myth
    | Reply

    Along the same lines, cities and states (took NY out as it is city and state and generally blows out the stats). Would be interesting to compare with Historical U.S. Metro Area Population Rankings.

  4. […] this week we looked at the study of culturomics, which takes the frequency of a word’s use in written literature to quantify cultural […]

  5. Mason
    | Reply

    Penis-Vagina search shows interest with the vagina corresponded to the victorian era. I thought that was interesting.

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=penis%2C+vagina&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

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