Google released its ngram tool and data a few days ago. An ngram is a term used in nlp or natural language processing, using computers to understand language. An ngram is a word combination. It can be a single word or a phrase. The question asked by the analysis is how frequently does this word or phrase get used. It’s reported as a percentage of total.

Google has indexed a large portion of the world’s books and so they are in a position to analyze word frequency questions over time. The frequency of a word over time can be an indication of how language is changing, how cultures and values shift, or can represent interest in a certain topic.

The real question is, “What can we use this data for?” That’s where a researcher needs to be a little creative. Asking the right question is the key to getting an insightful response from this kind of data. If you search the word ngram on tumblr you’ll see some of the ideas that people are having about what might be interesting to look at.

Here are some of mine:

Religion and Science

Men and Women, Boys and Girls

Idiot, loser, retard, moron

Fiber of my being