Word Count

December 17, 2010
Posted by Jay Livingston

Google’s new tool is too cool. It tracks the word count of any word or phrase in “lots of books” going back as far as 1800 if you like. And it’s fast. An instant reading of the Zeitgeist.

The rise and fall of sociology tracks with the discourse of social class.

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

Want to confirm your impression about the rise of soccer?

In some cases, it’s hard to figure out the relation between what’s in “lots of books” and what’s happening in the real world. The decline in “robbery” in books starts 15 years ahead of the decrease in robbery in the real world. And as robbery in the streets starts to decline, its representation on the page starts to rise. Go figure.

Warning: this is a real time-suck, at least it was for me today when I first discovered it.

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