Long term trends: The Ngrams Viewer

“A database of intentions” is how John Battelle described Google. It is a thrilling concept, at times unsettling, that you can see into the searching soul of the connected populace by seeing the words they use t find things.

Google Trends is one of those miraculous tools of the web that has quickly become commonplace. With a prophylactic time-lapse to keep its powerful advantage of insight, Google lets us see what people were search for by year and by region.

The other day I came across the Google Ngrams Viewer for the first time. This gives a slightly longer trends view in language, taking all the books since 1800 as its data set (actually up to 2008, I think).

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To screen or not to screen

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While the Calvin & Hobbes cartoon that cried “verbing weirds language” made a startement both wry and true, there are times when we can legitimately make the case for a new verb.

I’m not thinking of an unwanted and uninvited new word like “medalled”. That awkward verb will be said over and over this summer during London 2012, and I will feel a little pang of loss for our language every time. “Medalled” serves no new purpose – the nature of winning medals in sporting events has not changed noticeably – but it has manage to settle itself in to the vocabulary of our journalists and commentators almost unchallenged.

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Blogged elsewhere

 

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Image: The Rosetta Stone replica at the British Museum

The good news is… I’m blogging more. This is, I appreciate, mostly good news for me – as I’ve often noted, blogging works really well as a way of thinking and exploring ideas for me.

However, slightly confusingly, I am blogging a fair bit over at my digital strategy and earned media agency, Brilliant Noise.

I’ve not quite worked out which blog posts go where. Part of me thinks the more contentious ones should live here, but then I went and published a state-of-my-brain rant over at Brilliant Noise, and maybe that’s no bad thing.

This blog remains my public notebook, but I will post links to new posts here, but not re-posts as I’m reliably told this is frowned on by the Google.

Anyway, if you’re interested, here are my two most recent efforts:

  • Earned Media Marketers Unite! – In which I talk about earned media and the need for leadership and integration rather than competition between PR/SEO/social/content/UX.
  • Language, insight and luxury – Taking a look at some ideas from networks-focused research firm scenarioDNA about luxury brands and the need for brand taxonomies to use more appropriate and effective language in communications.

Pinterest can actually be useful, shock

Feeling a bit queasy from the over-chatter about Pinterest, I had it relegated to my list of “wait and see” web services (which Fourquare still sits on, while other less fortunate services have since faded into obsolesence).

Today, though, I actually found a use for the thing. Putting together some thoughts and a presentation around a metaphor about engines I developed a strong but powerful desire to collate a lot of images of Victorian engineering (this is not unusual, I could probably describe atavistic frenetic gathering as part of “my process”).

Once I would have dragged and dropped these into Curio, or perhaps saved them to a Posterous blog (well done them, by the way – couldn’t think of a better buyer than Twitter).

But Pinterest is absolutely perfect for that task. Love it. Maybe even finally understand it a little…

Now if you have any favourite Victorian machine images you’d like to drop in there for me, I’d be most grateful…

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