A story about humanity told through graphs

November 14, 2013

Googling around, I noticed searching define + any word displays a small graph showing how often that word has been used in books over the years. This is an experiment to create a cohesive narrative told through word usage graphs. Please let me know what you think and play around with the tool to come up with your own story.

economy

technology

resources

stuff

growth

peak

flaw

happiness

affection

friendship

joy

gratitude

liberty

prosperity

nature

abundance

emptiness

failure

depression

urgency

collapse

ask

why

learning

awareness

understanding

enlightenment

community

collective

camaraderie

shared

interconnected

ethics

empathy

evolve

choose

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4 Responses to “A story about humanity told through graphs”

  1. Christine Says:

    This is very interesting. I would be interested to know how much of this is due to changes in commonly used vocabulary over the past 200+ years.

    • Hao Chen Says:

      Good point. Languages change over time due to social, economic, and political influences. From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_change sociolinguist Jennifer Coates says, “linguistic change can be said to have taken place when a new linguistic form, used by some sub-group within a speech community, is adopted by other members of that community and accepted as the norm.”


  2. I’ve been playing with the tool for a few minutes and find it interesting that certain trendy health-related words (try “kale”) haven’t fluctuated much over the past 200 years.


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