I’ve been playing around with the Google Labs NGram book viewer, and you can do some pretty big picture stuff with it.

I mean really big picture:  As the NYTimes reported, Its a “mammoth database culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books available to the public for free downloads and online searches, opening a new landscape of possibilities for research and education in the humanities . . . It consists of the 500 billion words contained in books published between 1500 and 2008 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian.”

Just punching in a few key terms over the past century yields some pretty interesting results:


Main Street vs Wall Street (1920-2008)

click for larger graphs

Wall Street seems to get mentioned more after massive crashes — 1929, 2000 (above)


Check out the Deflation focus around 1930s, and the Inflation focus in the 1970s thru 80s:

Inflation vs Deflation(1920-2008)


The peak interest in Gold was around 1935, and rising again in 200s — with Oil getting lots of buzz around WWII and the 1980s.

Gold vs Oil (1920-2008)


England completely dominated for centuries:

Russia,Germany,China,England (1700-2008)


Uh-oh, there is a new kid int he neighborhood :

Russia,Germany,China,England, United States (1700-2008)


Here’s a fascinating one, from 1500–2008 — were those 17th and 18th century mentions of Jews all anti-semitic remarks? (or did we Jews certainly start publishing more books?)

Christians, Jews, Muslims (1500 – Present)

Category: Psychology, Web/Tech

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

15 Responses to “Fun with Google NGram Viewer”

  1. alpha_bet says:

    I recommend taking a look at gdp, gold, or efficient markets. I was pretty surprised by gold, considering when the price highs took place, both in nominal and inflation adjusted terms.

  2. lalaland says:

    Man, people just can’t quit writing about Jews. We are a fascinating people, I guess…

  3. Transor Z says:


    “Fuck, shit”

    Shut up. You know you were curious too. Usage really took off c. 1960.

  4. Transor,

    more than one way to ‘debase’ an ‘Economy’..

  5. poakland says:

    I think the chart for Christians, Jew and Muslims is distorted for a couple of reasons. One it is just English books. It is not for all books in Europe or Asia or the Middle East. Second, I think the terms that are used in English for believers in Islam have changed frquently over the years, from Mohammedans to Musulmans to Muslims with many other variants.

  6. Transor Z says:


    One man’s lyric is another man’s debasement. Take it up with Salinger, Roth, Ginsberg et al.

  7. Jack says:

    I suspect the definitions of “liberal” and “conservative” have changed over time.

  8. Ltdata says:

    This is: best of times, worst of times, from 1500+. Y axis is very small, though.


    Knowledge handily beats investments and millionaires in another.

  9. not-affiliated-with-Wall Street says:

    Hey Transor,

    Take it back to 1650-1700. Now THEY were fuckin’ nuts!


    William Shakespeare, Nicholas Rowe – 1709 – Full view
    Yoke-fellows in Arms, let us to France, like Horse-leeches, my Boys, – to fuck, to fuck, the very Blood to fuck. ” :,. rr , : .: r .’ . :s .., . .. Z * . t . …

    Wasn’t an F an S in those days? Still.

  10. [...] dirty words.  Media types, authors, vegetables, vices, and religions.  Political ideologies. Main St. versus Wall Street, inflation vs. deflation, gold vs. oil, and global superpowers.  Oh, and there’s a Tumblr for that (and a Twitter hashtag [...]

  11. [...] used in books from 1800 to 2008. Other bloggers have already run some fun economics comparisons. Barry Ritholz, for example, has does inflation vs. deflation, Main Street vs. Wall Street, and Gold vs. [...]