Words, words, words . . .

Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel's book Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture sounds like a weighty tome, but it's actually a skinny little book that explains how the authors developed and utilized a really excellent internet application . . . the Google Ngram Viewer, a tool which allows you to see the frequency of words and phrases as they occur over time in Google's massive library of digitized books; Uncharted explains some of the ways to use this data, which gives insight into things like the birth and death of words, the gradual waning of many irregular verbs, the effects of Nazi censorship of certain artists, how fame works, and the typical course of an invention-- but it's also quite fun to type in your own searches and see what happens . . . Godzilla vs. King Kong, martini vs. beer, rights vs. justice, funeral vs. wedding . . . and there's other powerful features as well, so if you've never tried it, click  on the link and give it a whirl.

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