William Boykin
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I present to you-

Google Labs Books Ngram Viewer!!!

http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/

I've already tried this out on a couple of searches in my field and found some interesting results. This would have been AMAZING when I was in Grad School. The ability to cross reference the interconnected nature of certain terms, and then track how often that term is used over time, is going to be an amazing boon for historians and other social scientists.

For instance-
I wrote a paper once on Hitler biographies- and how biography is used to justify/score points for the political arguments of the day. It took me about a WEEK to go through reviews of books, find the books, read the books, and then make my general comments about certain themes keep coming up in biographies, and how those themes come up at times when those politics are being talked about.

I was able to redo that same research with this tool in 10 minutes. surprise

On the other hand, since it doesn't have 'every' book, one has to be careful with it. There could be some form of bias that comes from the selection process, for instance. I did notice that a couple of the biographies that I used in my paper weren't in the Google database, for instance.

But that said-
Its a pretty incredible achievement. What the impact this is going to have on our culture and politics is going to be interesting- I forsee, at the very least, a lot of 'quoting' without understanding- 'cut n' paste' in lieu of argument.

On the other hand, I can only begin to imagine how useful this could be for a dedicated researcher....

Darilian
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William Boykin
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Some fun searches that I've done-

"Black Robed Regiment" (1800-2000)
Virtually nothing.

"Theory of Evolution, Intelligent Design, Creationism" (1920-2000)
Interesting dip in citations of Creationism that corresponds to the rise of references to Intelligent Design in 1990.

"Star Trek, Star Wars" (1965-2000)
Whats interesting here is that Star Wars just SURGES up in hits until 1988, and then drops off. A bit of resurgence from the prequel, but never comes back to pre 1988 levels. Trek, on the other hand, keeps a steady increase in hits until the late 1990s- around the time of ST:Voyager.

Just for fun.

Darilian

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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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Nobody reads threads anymore...
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William Boykin
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Some other searches....

"Win in Vietnam, Defeat in Vietnam" (1950-1980)
"Win" beats out "Defeat" in references by 2:1 up to about 4:1 (spiking during the Nixon Administration around 1970.)

"Atomic Energy, Petroleum" (1950-2000)
Atomic Energy peaks in 1964, then starts to decline. Petroleum is more erratic- no consistent curve but a general decline until 1970- then a SERIOUS spike that maintains through the 1980's.

Interesting.

Darilian
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William Boykin
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ejmowrer wrote:
Nobody reads threads anymore...


I had to go LOOK-
A thread entitled "Bigger than Jesus", in THIS forum, usually means that I'm going to stay far, far away.... (unless it gets over 15+ pages or someone pm's me about it.)

laugh

My title is better.



What I love though, is that both the other OP and I had the same idea of cross referencing Star Wars vs. Star Trek. Nerds. We're all nerds....

Darilian
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William Boykin
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Conclusion-
Its finicky.

Sometimes you can get no hits. For a time I was getting no hits for 'william buckley', but then I did when I redid it as "William Buckley", for instance.

Also, "Battle of the Bulge" gets lots of hits. "Battle of Waterloo" gets no hits. "Waterloo", on the other hand, gets lots of hits. Wierd.

And a phrase like "Turn on, tune in, drop out" is impossible to search for, as commas denote seperate phrases and the seperate clauses are too common for a search to be meaningful.

My advice:
Its a useful way to do a search for a book. I'd type in a phrase that I would know was in a given book- like "God is Dead", and I could get a search for books that contained that phrase broken down by time periods. But its really no different than a web search- what you get out of it is completely dependant on the inputs. If you do it wrong, or aren't precise, you come up null.

The other problem is that its very, VERY hard to filter out certain meanings of words. This is something that I wish DDJ would chime in on. For instance, I did a search for 'Settlers of Catan', I get NOTHING.

I do just "Catan", but set the time period for the 1990's, I get references to the board game. But mixed in with the board game are other references. To double check, I set the time period way back to 1800 (safely before Klaus Teuber's game), and I still get tons of hits referring to all sorts of different things- from Catholic Saints to some phrases in Latin. How do you sort those out? Hard to tell. David, if you're reading and know anything about this, I wouldn't mind hearing your point of view on this.

My recommendation is to use with caution. It most certainly doesn't 'prove' anything.....but it is useful way to start asking some interesting questions.

Darilian

 
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Darilian wrote:
"Atomic Energy, Petroleum" (1950-2000)
Atomic Energy peaks in 1964, then starts to decline. Petroleum is more erratic- no consistent curve but a general decline until 1970- then a SERIOUS spike that maintains through the 1980's.


That's curious, I wonder if you use the term "nuclear energy" if you get different results. I'm guessing the 60's was about the time when the word "atomic" started falling out of use, in favor of "nuclear."
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As proof of the downfall of the Matriarchy, I offer:




Also, please note that at the height of Settlers of Catan's US popularity:



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William Boykin
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Sinister Dexter wrote:
Darilian wrote:
"Atomic Energy, Petroleum" (1950-2000)
Atomic Energy peaks in 1964, then starts to decline. Petroleum is more erratic- no consistent curve but a general decline until 1970- then a SERIOUS spike that maintains through the 1980's.


That's curious, I wonder if you use the term "nuclear energy" if you get different results. I'm guessing the 60's was about the time when the word "atomic" started falling out of use, in favor of "nuclear."


Exactly so.

Classic example of why tools like this don't prove anything. Corrolation isn't causation.

Darilian
 
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Darilian wrote:
Corrolation isn't causation.

Corrolation isn't correlation either, as this chart clearly proves:


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colleens wrote:

I hate statistics.


Great
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I really admire the 75 percent of you who are making up these statistics: At least you're trying. The other 50 percent of you are just idiots.
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Boardgame vs. videogame
 
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As they say, 47.8% of statistics are made up on the spot.
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Lovely stuff: "Great War, First World War" (1800-2000).

Interesting points:
- The pre-1914 use of Great War (referring I think to the Napoleonic wars).
- The absolute takeover by First World War in 1939-1940.
- The steady but slow post-war trend to recover the first name.
 
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It's fun to play with. I think there is a dating error with several books from 1990-2010 getting put in 100 years too early. If you search for cyberpunk, nanotechnology, or iPod, you will see some anomalous blips during the 1890-1910 period.

Some more interesting ones:
football,baseball,basketball,hockey,soccer,tennis
beef,chicken
poodle,retriever,bulldog,beagle
pirate,ninja,zombie,robot
wizard,cleric,thief,fighter
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snoweel wrote:
It's fun to play with. I think there is a dating error with several books from 1990-2010 getting put in 100 years too early. If you search for cyberpunk, nanotechnology, or iPod, you will see some anomalous blips during the 1890-1910 period.

Some more interesting ones:
football,baseball,basketball,hockey,soccer,tennis
beef,chicken
poodle,retriever,bulldog,beagle
pirate,ninja,zombie,robot
wizard,cleric,thief,fighter


Yeah, I was wondering about those 1900's era video games above.
 
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colleens wrote:
I hate statistics.

That's a bit clear for a postmodernist. Don't you mean that you privilege an anally abjected antistatstical narrative?

[1] Footnote fashionably referencing Guy Debord
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I crave an antistatstical popsicle now.
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