The Futurist Corporation


Google Ngrams
18 December 2010, 12:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/
The ability to track data this way is a huge deal.
Google now allows anyone to search through its entire collection of digitized books for the frequency of word use. Google trends (http://www.google.com/trends) itself was a big deal when it came out–opening up new ways of tracking human thought. I still believe that Google trends has a ton of untapped potential, from Sociological data, diffusion of knowledge to marketing strategies, demographic trends and data about the way people think. Google trends only lets you go back about seven years though. And its data set is restricted Google users. Google’s new service Ngrams allows anyone to search through the entire record of digitized books in English, Spanish French, German, simplified Chinese and Russian and examine knowledge trends across the whole spectrum of all publicly published data.

Google books itself is a culture-changing endeavor. Google has now digitized almost 12 percent of all the books that have ever been published, ever. The ability to archive and organize that information has the potential to affect so many different fields. The ability to quantify and empirically examine what entire societies have been thinking about is a huge leap forward for our whole culture.

Here is an article from the Economist detailing one way in which this has already transformed our knowledge. (http://www.economist.com/node/17730198?story_id=17730198&fsrc=scn/tw/te/rss/pe”)
The possibilities for this tool are not even conceivable right now. It has the potential to transform our knowledge in so many different ways, from sociology to anthropology to the history of ideas, into market strategy, academic research, religion, interdisciplinary theorizing, philosophy, human geography–entirely new disciplines could spawn out of this. The possibilities for this tool may not become fully apparent for years, but the ability access knowledge this way has the potential to completely transform the way information is processed, and thus our entire culture. Google books, Google trends, and Google ngrams have the potential to completely alter the way knowledge is diffused through our whole civilization.

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