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4/9/15 01:22 pm - Fascinating google Ngram searches

A discussion I was having recently led me to start exploring using Google Ngram, a feature in Google Books.

I thought it could be interesting to look at a few terms I would associate with ideas around cultural ideas such as The Enlightenment, Modernity, Post-modernism and Crisis Modernity, the Great Confinement, and ideas about progress and science. They are all alas far easier to look at if you do the actual searches yourself in the Ngram viewer because the charts show up much larger, but I have a few saved images of some of the more interesting searches here. Keep in mind it’s all based on books Google have scanned for Google books - so it’s not exhaustive and it’s based on what people were writing about. Results can also be skewed by the number of times it might appear in a text or texts. It’s also worth taking into account that copyright and access to books will also potentially skew the data. It’s still potentially able to give us a rough idea of what issues and ideas were finding their way into print and when, so in theory one could potentially use it to track historical interest in those ideas, or by showing related antonyms possibly also a crisis with them. Google also sometimes has errors with its searches in Google books - some words and dates can end up being misread by it, especially if they are from old documents where the print may be hard for software to read.

Keep in mind the saying 'there are lies, damn lies, and statistics'. They can mislead and misrepresent things as well as reveal real trends and changes. So treat this all with a pinch of salt. If you want to its possible to follow the original links and on the bottom of the page you get links to the actual books as a search by date range. Some of them you can read portions of and sometimes it will show clips of the passages where the word occurred. Older books might also be able to be found in full on the wonderful
Archive.org site.

I realised part way through I could extend the date range a little past the year 2000 and have updated the links but the graphics all have 2000 as the last date in the range.

Word etymologies really also need to be considered - words can and do change their meanings or gain alternate ones over time and sometimes we are looking at new words. It can also be interesting to look at trends with the same words in different languages. Who was talking about it where as well as when? That would take a lot more time than I want to spend on this and I only have very limited skill with other languages though.

A seemingly obvious word to start with would be 'progress', but it’s a word that is open to multiple uses/meanings and though it does show an increase in use, its perhaps far to problematic. 'Science' is another problematic word as it significantly changed in usage over time (it used to apply much more generally to knowledge than it does now).


Progress

Original Chart

So instead I had a look at two ideas that relate very closely to our sense of things getting better or worse in society, utopia and dystopia.

Utopia
utopia.png
Original Chart

Dystopia
distopia.png
Original Chart

I also looked at the idea of rationality - where there any changes with the frequency people talked about it?

Rational

Original Chart

Irrational

Original Chart

Not unrelated to this are ideas of sanity and insanity (which Foucault argued developed with the Enlightenment as a part of the concept of the 'Age of Reason').

Sane

Original Chart

Insane

Original Link

Mental health

It might be worth taking political correctness into account with this, so I also wondered if we might see an increase in discussing 'mental health' that matches where the late dips in talking about sanity and insanity occur last century. I could not get this one to create a saveable file (generally you change the part where it says 'graph' in the url to 'chart', enter and then 'save as' - the embed chart option doesn’t work here alas). Short answer is - it does show an increase around the same point in time, so it might be evidence of a very pc switch in language!
Check out the link though.

Original Link

Modernity

Original Link

Modern

Original Link

I didn't bother with post-modern or post-modernism as a search term for posting – it’s very much a product of the 1960s. You will see it suddenly appear and shoot up the chart around then.
Aside from there being some fairly obvious fashions for concepts, the comparison that struck me as the most interesting was for utopia and dystopia. If we have a sense that we are reaping the fruits of the Enlightenment - why is it that we seem to much more interested in dystopias than utopias now? It could almost be interpreted as a sign that the Enlightenment started with utopian ideals and we now find them a wee bit strained. This is of course what people are talking about when they talk about crisis-modernity and what post-modernism was seeking to address. This is really all just a fairly limited and quick look at this whole idea of doing Google Ngram searches and I wouldn't want to start drawing hard and fast conclusions from it though.


The word that started it all for me was:
Scientism

Original Link

The great thing with Ngram searches is that you can do them for yourself! Keep in mind the various warnings about the data though, and that while it doesnt take any skill to make a search, it will do to check and interpret them!

1/1/14 07:17 pm - New Immanion Press covers

Cycles Icon New book covers for Immanion Press.
Art under the linkCollapse )

5/6/13 07:34 pm - Lindfield Arts Festival

Its been some years since I last exhibited my artwork (2009 I had some work on display locally but the last proper exhibitions I did were in 2006).

I will be at the Lindfield Arts Festival May 10th, 11th and 12th.

Fri May 10th is the private viewing 7pm - 9pm
Sat May 11th is open to the public 10am-5pm
Sun May 12th 12pm-4.30pm
The venue is the United Reform Church in Lindfield.

There just might be some new art by me nobody but Suzette has seen before...

2/24/13 07:50 pm - Website

I have just updated my website at www.hollinghurst.org.uk, added some art that should have been on there a while ago and redone it all with css to fix the problem with my creaky old centre tags.

4/19/12 10:37 am - Monday Luck

Cycles Icon Book cover for 'Monday Luck'.
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8/17/11 09:14 am - The Shadow Cycles

Cycles Icon My latest book cover is now finished.
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7/17/11 10:45 pm - 1,000 Steampunk Creations

Here is a little more about the book mentioned in my previous post.

http://tattooedartgirl.livejournal.com (Barbe Saint John http://barbesaintjohn.com) approached me to ask if I would like to be in the book, so its started off as Barbe's labour of love (it also has some of her own art in it, so well worth getting on the strength of that alone) who teamed up with Dr Grymm (http://www.drgrymmlaboratories.com/2009/04/doctor-grymms-steampunk-heart.html)to publish the final book.
Having had a chance to have a look through it now its a fine book filled with all sorts of fascinating gadgets, art and costume and probably a bit of a 'must have' for those who are into anything Steampunk.

Its available on Amazon as well as at Qbookshop.

So - thanks to Barbe for thinking of asking me to contribute!

7/16/11 08:07 pm - Adam The Mechanical Marvel

Adam Icon I have been refraining from putting this artwork up even though I created it last year since it was intended to go in a steampunk book that has only just recently come into print and I didn't want to jump the gun and post before it would be available.
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5/8/11 05:37 pm - Indigo Eyes

Indigo IconIn my last post I mentioned I was working on another cover for Immanion Press http://www.immanion-press.com, and here it is...

Click me!Collapse )

3/9/11 08:19 am - Dreamlife, Dreamdeath

Dream IconAnother cover for Immanion Press http://www.immanion-press.com

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