Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Long-term Media Trends--Evidence from Google's Ngram Viewer

I couldn't resist playing with Google's new Ngram Viewer, a program that an article in the The New York Times described as "Google's 500 Billion Word Haystack."  Plug in some of the major communication media of the twentieth century and the Ngram Viewer returns the accompanying line graph (click on the graphic to see a full size version).  The telephone and newspapers received considerable mention in English language books throughout the century, with a bit more attention around 1940 than at any other time.  Mentions of radio soared during the World War II era.  Mentions of television began to increase around 1950 and continued to do so until the year 2000.   It comes as no surprise that mentions of the internet begin in the 1990s, a pointed reminder of how recent a phenomenon this everyday communication tool is.  Although we may use the internet daily, we still use it for listening to the radio, watching television or reading newspapers, among other things.

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