Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ngram Viewer

Google has a new tool called Ngram Viewer. It has led to a new field called “culturomics” - the study of culture using vast amounts of data. Here is how these buzzwords came about. For a jobless guy like me, it is fun to key in different words and see their trends. Some interesting ngrams were:
  1. India,China,Brazil - Why is India dipping in the last three decades?
  2. Some management jargon - Oh those MBAs!
  3. Schadenfreude
  4. I saw a list of 100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know. I looked at the graph of a couple of words that I did not know. (There were some words whose meanings I was not sure of but I probably would have guessed them if I had a few alternatives like in Reader's Digest. But I had no idea about these two words.)
  5. I saw a post about the best movie quotes of all time and looked at the trends of some of the movies (not the quotes because I am not sure how to handle the punctuations).
  6. Some poets
  7. Some fictional detectives
  8. Distinguishing real science from fads
  9. Apparently this is the Best Google n-gram yet.
  10. The Science Hall of Fame
But the graphs should be taken with a pinch of salt.


  1. Awesome. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. Also clicked through almost all the links, just in case you thought you are the only jobless guy around. Embarrassed to admit that I was not familiar with Ngram.

    One point here - the popularity of a word need not indicate anything more than the popularity of the word itself. "Schadenfreude" is a good example. My own theory is that the use of the word reached a "tipping point", after which the use of the word just exploded. Based on whatever I have read, feeling happy about the unhappiness of others seems to be an age-old emotion.

  2. Must say Google team has lots of people with lots of time!!