Thursday, February 3, 2011

On the Rise

Google's got a fun new tool called an Ngram viewer, which essentially lets you chart the popularity of a word or phrase over a specific time period. It does this by measuring its occurrence in its reserves of digitized English-language books. (It came to my attention via this article.)

So just for fun, today I plugged in the terms "public diplomacy" and "soft power" and traced them from 1970 to 2008, the last year for which Ngram has results. See the chart below (and yes, I do realize it's difficult to read. You can see the original here).

 And check out the results for diplomacy v. propaganda, over a larger time span:

And here are some interesting parallels between the rise and fall of democracy and propaganda's popularity:

Of course, it would take additional research to determine what -- if any -- significance the trends show. But I encourage you to try it. And if you come up with any interesting charts, be sure to let me know.

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