Five million books! That is a lot of books. Today I took a few minutes to watch another TED talk that had been sitting unwatched in my queue for quite some time. It introduces some of the ways that digital technologies are making it easier to perform massive research with amounts of data that previously would have been inconceivable.
Combining the brains of some of the top researches from Harvard and MIT along with the vision and massive computers of Google these researches have developed a way to analyze over 5,000,000 books. This opens the door for all kinds of applications as it opens a window into culture as recorded over the past 400 years.
Best of all – they have made this technology and the massive database open for anyone to use with the: Google Ngram Viewer. You can put in a word or phrase and then with the click of a button instantly search the entire database and see the trend of its usage throughout history.
This could be incredibly interesting for socio-linguistics as you can chart usage over time (as demonstrated below). It allows you to identify trends in cultures. And a thousand other things.
So watch the video and then try your own hand at searching some Ngrams.
- Google Books Ngram Viewer Graduates from Labs (readwriteweb.com)
- Culturomics: What We Can Learn from 5 Million Books (brainpickings.org)
- Ted Talks: What We Learned from 5 Million Books (milkandcookies.com)