Google Ngrams: Google outranked Wikipedia ... in 1900

The new tool – or is that toy? – from Google shows word frequencies in books from 1500 to 2008. What does it show for Google's own history as a word?

By , Guest blogger

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    Between 1800 and 2008, Google appeared in books much more frequently than Wikipedia. Of course, what's most surprising is that either term appeared at all, but that's the fun of Google's latest toy: you can track (and compare) words throughout the history of print.
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Google unveiled a new toy yesterday. The Books Ngram Viewer lets users see how often words and phrases were used in books from 1500 to 2008. Other bloggers have already run some fun economics comparisons. Barry Ritholz, for example, has does inflation vs. deflation, Main Street vs. Wall Street, and Gold vs. Oil.

In the humorous glitch department, I tried out the names of two Internet services I use everyday, Google and Wikipedia. For some reason, the Ngram viewer defaults to the timeperiod 1800 to 2000 (rather than 2008), and this was the chart I got (click to see a larger version):

It’s amazing to see references to Wikipedia as far back as the 1820s. Impressive foresight. Google overtook Wikipedia in the late 1800s and, with the exception of a brief period in the 1970s, has led ever since.

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