Culturomics

ngram

Culturomics is a form of computational lexicology that studies human behavior and cultural trends through the analysis of digitized texts. Researchers data mine large digital archives to investigate cultural phenomena reflected in language and word usage. The term is an American neologism first described in a 2010 ‘Science’ article called ‘Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books,’ co-authored by Harvard researchers Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Lieberman Aiden. Michel and Aiden helped create the Google Labs project Google Ngram Viewer which uses n-gram’s to analyze the Google Book digital library for cultural patterns in language use over time.

In another study called ‘Culturnomics 2.0,’ Kalev H. Leetaru examined news archives including print and broadcast media (television and radio transcripts) for words that imparted tone or ‘mood’ as well as geographic data. The research was able to retroactively predict the 2011 Arab Spring and successfully estimate the final location of Osama Bin Laden to within 124 miles.

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