Sunday, December 26, 2010

Coolest New Tool: Google Ngram - Research and Graph Trends

This is nifty! The graph above tracks mentions of the following phrases in books published between 1950 and 2008: Childhood Obesity, Nutrition Program, Soy Protein. I started by wondering if there is a correlation between increased school meals (like breakfast) and children's weight. It looks like one culprit may be the increased use of Soy in nearly every processed food. It's not science, but is an easy way to start developing & testing a hypothesis.

The tool is the Google Books Ngram Viewer (also now linked from my sidebar). It takes a bit of tweaking (the search tool is case sensitive, and has rules for handling punctuation, and doesn't account for the quaints used by early printers eg "Congrefs"), so keep those in mind when testing phrases.

It's a hoot to use! I may be here all night!

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