Friday, December 17, 2010

Graph the Zeitgeist: Frequency of "Bicycle" in Google Books, 1850-2008

Ever wished for a way to visualize the Zeitgeist? It's here.

Google just rolled out a way to graph text frequency from their vast googlebooks database. Here's the frequency of "bicycle" from 1850-2008. It clearly shows the three big bike booms.

Comparing "autoist" and "bicyclist," or "automobile" and "bicycle," wasn't nearly as interesting. If you play with it and hit on an interesting graph, do share!


Mr.Thomas said...

One point to make is that your ??? showing the drop in bicycle near the end. If you look at nearly any word, even car, auto, or television, you see similar drops in the end. My guess is the data is not quite accurate at the end point. Bike is another good one to add to the graph as it has seen an even faster increase in usage.

Daniel Evans said...

This is pretty cool! Amazing how it really does show the bike booms. I would have never thought of looking for them in this data. Smart:-)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

I don't know why I didn't think to add "bike" to the graph! Thanks. That appears to show our current, 4th bike boom.

For the curious, Slate has a bunch of good graphs here.

Unknown said...

The words that I have found the most interesting are local, distant and region. These have been on liner trends for almost 200 years since the invention of the railroad. Link to Google Ngram. The recent interest in Local has really been developing all this time.

- Jeff