Sunday, February 5, 2012


Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel came up with Culturomics, the cultural analog to genomics.
Culturomics is the application of massive scale data collection and analysis to the study of human culture.
At TED, Aiden and Michel described a database of 5 million books and their results researching the 500 billion words in the books. They show when words are censored or used in propaganda, how different career choices lead to different fame outcomes (hint: don't become a mathematician if you want to be famous), and how some words go through cycles.

When Google saw what these researchers were up to, Google Labs slapped together Ngrams. NGrams searches the database of 5 million books to provide histograms of word use by year, from 1800 to 2008.

Here are some fun Ngrams to start you on your own culturomics adventure:

Share your own Ngrams in the comments.