Truth Be Told- Moretti’s assumptions in “Graphs, Maps, and Trees”

In the reading from Franco Moretti’s: “Graphs, Maps, and Trees,” Moretti argues that literary history cannot be fully grasped by studying individual books, but that it must be studied by analyzing the system of literature as a whole, using large sets of data such as graphs, maps, and trees. Using such literary data, Moretti makes strong claims about various cultures around the world, including the culture of Japan beginning in the 1700’s (page 9). Moretti attributes the growth and decline of novels in Japan to the politics of that era, specifically because of:

A direct, virulent censorship during the Kansei and Tempo periods, and an indirect influence in the years leading up to the Meiji Restoration, when there was no specific repression of the book trade.”

The growth and decline of the novel in Japan is shown in the graph below, which does indicate a number of shifts in the amount of novels being produced per year, however Moretti’s claim makes many assumptions about the political arena in Japan, which is not supported with any further evidence.

Moretti graph(Page 10)

 Although Moretti’s assumptions about Japanese history are not supported with factual evidence, they are historically significant and accurate. The Kansei and Tempo periods in Japanese history saw harsh censorship and government control, due to military dictatorships, which occurred from 1787-1793, as well as 1830-1844. The Meiji Restoration began in 1868, when the strict government was overthrown. This led to a rise in independence and creativity in Japan. These periods in Japanese history greatly affected the publications of books in Japan, which was accurately predicted by Moretti in his study of big sets of literary data, shown in the graph above. Therefore, Moretti’s assumptions about Japanese politics are very accurate, which further enhance his claim that a nation’s culture can be predicted by studying literary systems.



Encyclopedia Britannica:

Moretti’s Ever-Changing Novel

As separate as they sometimes may appear, scientific reasoning and literature’s paths cross occasionally, creating this selection by Moretti. He argues that the novel has changed its role in literature since the 1700s. What used to sweep a continent by storm and have lasting cultural impact has now metamorphosed into a revenue-generating machine, “A new novel per week, by contrast, is already the great capitalist oxymoron of the regular novelty: the unexpected that is produced with such efficiency and punctuality that readers become unable to do without it.” Moretti even goes to such lengths to compare it to the film industry and its reputation for watered-down writing, “—novels make readers lazy, stupid, dissolute, insane, insubordinate: exactly like films two centuries later—.”

The author makes a legitimate claim in this piece. Even over the past 5 years, I have noticed the “here and gone” fanaticism that comes hand in hand with a new novel. However, this is not the case for all new fiction. Some novels quietly fade into the background, only to make it to the shelves for a quick stay. The real issue with this phenomenon is how the human race changes its preferred form of communication almost constantly. I believe the social aspect of reading has dramatically changed how and why people read, and that will continue to shift as long as humanity continues to share information.

Prevalence of Different Genres of Literature


There is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow that suggests people don’t focus on subjects unnecessary for survival unless other conditions necessary for survival and sanity are met. According to Maslow, people don’t focus on literature when other they are worried about there own survival. To survive, we need food, water, and shelter, in our society, we also need financial security.

To test this theory, we can follow trends in the major literary genres throughout the last 150 years.  Drama, comedy, tragedy, and satire correlate very well with each other, romance varies slightly but generally follows the same overall trend. During the 1860’s, during the Civil War, none of the genres gain any significant prominence, due to the fact that people were concerned with the safety of their friends and family. Starting in 1870, all genres start gaining more prevalance, until about the middle 1910’s, the start of World War I. During WWI, the relative prevalence of all genre’s drops sharply, potentially due to the fact that people are generally more concerned with their own personal safety. During the roaring twenties, the prevalence of all genre’s increases sharply. During this time, the economy was growing rapidly, due to the increased financial security, people where allowed to focus more on literature. The prevalence of each genre begins to drop when  the stock market crashes in the late 1920’s, and continues to drop throughout the great depression and World War II.  Growth is stagnated during the cold war in the 50’s, and begins to fall sharply as the Vietnam War escalates in mid 60’s to mid 70’s.

The prevalence of all genres continues to slowly decline after the 80’s, except for Romance. I think this decline is due to the decline of printed media as a whole due to the rise of technology and digital media.


The Formality of Society

Formal vs Informal Words

As the english language has changed and warped to meet the needs of its speakers, the meaning and emphasis of certain words changes. When people begin to use a new set of words, they become more commonplace and loose power as a result. The Ngram above shows the relationship between a few words that would be considered formal to many people and some words that represent the informal version of each. During the 20th century the relative abundance of formal words switched places with that of the informal counterparts and since, informal words have been used much more regularly. That being said, our society is pushing towards less formal methods of communication because of the  abundance of casual words that are found in literature.

In order to look at why this switch occurred, it is a good idea to think about the type of people that were contributing to the literature of the day. Before the 20th century, books and records were written by educated individuals or professionals more commonly than the average person. As a result, more formal works were produced and terms that our society would consider slang had not become widely popular. During the 20s when the country reached its financial high before the great depression, slang terms and those that would be considered more informal emerged as more prominent contributors to literature. As the 20th century progressed, the frequency of each showed how culture was influencing the way people communicated on paper, offering a more thorough glimpse into how they spoke in person.

Modern day society greatly favors informal methods of communication over those that would be considered old, dated,  or strict. Terms like “all right” are much more common than “acceptable”, and while this is not a definitive measure of the formality of society, it shows a push towards informal communication and ultimately a reduction in the use of formal terms and phrases.

The reason for this shift can likely be attributed to the internet and the interconnectivity it provides. Communication has reached levels that are unrivaled and as a result, we are leaning more towards slang in written communication. Whereas at one point written language was exclusively formal, new forms of writing that exhibit casual language are beginning to emerge.


Popularity of Different Religious Figures



I wanted to look at the change in popularity of different none western religious figures since 1700. At first I tried to compare these results with that of God and Jesus but I found that God and Jesus appeared too much and skewed the graph to make it impossible to see the changes in any of the other figures. Once I had decided with the dates 1700 to 1900 I found the graph that was produced very interesting. I was surprised that the Dalia Lama received so little popularity when compared to the other three since he is the only one of the religious figures that is actually a living person. Then again, he is the head of Tibetan Buddhist which do not have the largest following. I was also surprised to see the Zeus was so popular since his religion is no longer followed. This probably has more to do with the Greek gods’ popularity in pop culture than Zeus actually being written in religious text. I was not sure what to expect with Muhammad since he is of course a very popular Islamic religious name, and in turn many people have been named after him. Most notable, Muhammad Ali which I believe this explains he increase in the mention of Muhammad in the 1950. I was not very surprised when it came to the Buddha’s recent popularity in western culture as it seems I come across more and more quotes from him every year. I believe this data is the most significant of the four since Buddha could not really be misinterpreted as something else by google I shows a true representation of the increase in interest in the Buddha in Western culture. The only word to significantly fall was Zeus from 1900 to 2000 and I believe this had to do with the industrialization of the world and a change in the opinion of people. I think before the 1900’s people looked more to the past and spent time thinking about it, but after the industrial revolution public opinion changed and they spent more time looking to the future and less on the past.

Relationships Over Time

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.52.17 PM


Humans will always be interacting with each other in different ways. Man is a social animal and by nature, humans need relationships to be happy and content. I was curious to see how more intimate types of relationships have changed and become more or less prominent over time. For this reason, I decided to search the words “marriage”, “sex”, and “friendship” on Google Ngram to see if there have been any significant changes in the past two hundred years.

It was interesting to see that marriage has stayed relatively consistent, with the exception of a time period around the 1920s. The 20s marked a period of time of independence. It was a time for young people to let go and enjoy themselves. Young women were especially less interested in marriage because of this newfound freedom.

On the other hand, sex and friendship have seen dramatic changes in usage over time. You can see a large and gradual increase in “sex”, but an equivalent decrease in “friendship”. This change reflects how American culture has gone from relatively conservative to very liberal in this sense. Sex has become more and more casual, while less and less importance has been placed on friendship. In this age of social media and smart phones, people more than often converse through chatting and text messaging. This perhaps is weakening the average person’s ability to socially interact with people face-to-face. As a result, people have most likely become more introverted and are less capable of developing and sustaining friendships.


Popularity of Military Terms

I decided to look up military branches on Ngram to determine if increased use of the terms correlate with war in the United States and if a certain branch was more popular during which war. I did this by tracking “army”, “navy”, “marines”, “air force”, and “military” in American English only.


It is obvious that the army is by far the most discussed branch. “Military” follows closely behind “army” and eventually passes “army” to become the most common term among the five in modern language. In the distance is the navy and then (once invented) the air force. Most people seem to use “military” as a general term to describe all the branches which explains why it has grown in popularity over the past 40 years. Also, “army” could be the most popular term for so long because it was the most common used military branch in the past due to the lack of advanced technology.

Also, the spikes in the term usage correlate with wars in America. The huge peak in 1776 was when the United States gained their independence, which also explains the peak in the navy because of the magnitude of overseas warfare. The peak in 1812-1816 correlates with the War of 1812. There was little to no peak in “navy” in 1865, though there was a peak in the other terms because of the Civil War’s lack of necessity for a navy. The peak in 1918 associates with World War I while in 1944 World War II was in full swing. There are some peaks that are more difficult to find correlations for. This could be because there were wars abroad that made people think of the military more. Since the terms all peaked during wars, it seems as if people were extremely preoccupied with the war and that the topic dominated conversations.

Society’s Fixation on Major Events

NGram Picture


I think the topic I want to focus on is pretty obvious from the words that I searched. We, as cultures, choose to focus on major events. The world wars were arguably some of the most crucial events in world history. Today, we discuss buzzing news by taking to Twitter and publishing articles online. We also use some methods that they used last century, though, such as putting this news in the front page of the next day’s paper or publishing the information in books for later generations. Although our ways of sharing important events have changed over the years, our curiosity and interests have not changed.

It’s interesting when you view the graphs. During each world war you notice a sharp increase in the words United States, Germany, and world war. The peaks of the countries happen at about the same time, and they last for the same time interval. This graph would be helpful if you wanted a preview what would happen if a third world war occurred. The graph would mimic how it looked during the previous two world wars. The only difference that is predictable is the time of the peak. The peaks during WWI and WWII occurred a couple of years following the wars, whereas if a future world war were to occur, a peak would be seen during the period of the war. This is because our society can share that information much faster than they could during prior time periods.

Southwest and Big Data

Looking back on the project, I think I could have spent a little more time evolving my topic. I knew that I wanted to do my presentation on something that related to my field of study, Aerospace Engineering. And, I knew that there was a lot of data in the airline industry, so I thought I could merge the two. After researching how the two related, I came upon how Southwest uses big data and decided to use this as my idea. I quickly found all the information I could on the topic, which wasn’t enough, but I was too far into the project to change the topic. I stuck by what I had already came up with and decided to add a little more on how the airplane itself gathers data. So, I looked up what sensors an airplane might use and came up with this sensor:


This water vapor sensor shows what an airplane’s data can do for itself and other fields, such as weather forecasting. The picture shows what a sensor might look like and all the parts involved with it. Since it would be hard to verbally tell what the sensor looks like and how it works, I added this picture to give the audience the image that my words could not create. My argument for this whole project was meant to be what data Southwest collects and how it creates a safer, more efficient, and more customer friendly airline. There was not as much information behind this as I thought there would have been. I thought the part about them teaming up with NASA was really interesting though. Southwest did not release too much information on how they maintain such customer satisfaction other than that they partnered with Aspect to analyze speech and social media to see what their customers want. All this data did work though because in the end, they do have the least amount of complaints.


It is amazing how they have such a low number of complaints and such a high number of customers. This visual shows that even airlines that have less customers have much more complaints. Other than Delta, all other big airlines, such as Virgin, US Airways, American Airlines, and United, have many more complaints. Adding this image to the Pecha Kucha gave the audience more of an idea of what the other popular airlines’ customer satisfaction was like.

If I were to do this project again, I would have given myself more time and come to office hours to talk about how I could formulate my argument/topic better. If I had done that, my presentation would have been much better.


Language and Culture

The book, Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture, explores the relationship between language and culture. Aiden and Michel asserts that there is a significant change in form of language and the use of language as the culture changes. And in order to improve the study of culture, study of language is crucial. This idea is deeply related with the program they created, the Ngram. They’ve studied how does the use of certain language changes over time. For example, the word ‘tea’ was way more used than the word ‘coffee’ in English history. Yet, since 1970s, coffee has become dominant as the main beverage among common people, and thus has become much more used word than ‘tea’. Such example shows that tracing the use of language can lead to better understanding of culture in general. The book compares the culture to dinosaurs. Both have a common characteristic that through traces from the past it can be found and studied. Just as the study of dinosaur is made through fossils, the study of culture can be improved by its trace from the past, which is introduced as use of language.

The assumption might not be always right. Sometimes language reacts later than the change of trend in culture. Language cannot directly mirror the cultural trend or changes. Yet, it is true that language is the best way to observe cultural changes. Language is easily observable through books or different works of literature. It is the most commonly used method of communication and exchange of ideas. Tracing the culture through language, which is a cultural fossil, may not be the exact way of examination, yet it is definitely a revolutionary method.

Information Technology In Automobiles

Pecha Kucha Reflection

I chose this topic: “Information Technology in Automobiles,” specifically because I am personally interested in the car industry, and I thought that I could find a lot of relevant pictures about this topic. I didn’t want to choose a topic that would be hard to accumulate images, but I also wanted to present something that I’m interested in.  I developed my argument around how big data is changing the way people drive and interact with their vehicles. I think that big data is beginning to create a whole new type of vehicle on the road, which will enhance the driving experience and keep people safer.

Originally, I wasn’t sure on how to begin the process for creating this presentation, because of the tricky timing between narration and slides. I decided to focus on a few main points, and find pictures for those points before I began writing a script. While reflecting, I think this was the best decision, because my images were incorporated well into my presentation, and it also helped me stay on topic with my script. In order to find the images, I tried to assemble pictures that showed examples, such as the driver fatigue system shown below. If that was not possible, I tried to enhance my argument with strong graphs or figures. Basically, for every slide, I not only wanted to incorporate the images in my talk, I wanted to enhance the argument I was making by incorporating these images.

Driver fatigue




One thing I did to help with the 20 second timing, was to set up my script in separate paragraphs so that I know where i need to be when following the pages. This helped me make sure i finish at the right time, and I also wanted to make sure I didn’t spend over 20 seconds on a slide, therefore I can express every image instead of disregarding some. When rehearsing my initial script, I found things to be very fast paced and quick. Therefore, I shortened a lot of lines and paragraphs, so that I would have breathing room for the presentation. This took a lot of patience and timings, which was a lot harder than I had anticipated.



The scheming that went into making this pecha kucha really helped me with my presenting skills, because you have to keep everything precise and strong in 20 seconds or less. This was unlike anything I had ever worked on before, and I learned a lot about presenting because of it. If I had another chance to do a pecha kucha, I believe that I would try to work without a complete script. When I was presenting, I felt like I was staring down way to much and not interacting with the audience. I would set up note cards in order to highlight key terms and sentences, but I would try to communicate more with the audience in order to be more engaging.

Coke vs. Pepsi

Screenshot 2014-11-08 at 3.45.29 PM

The controversy between Coke and Pepsi has become more prominently displayed since moving to Atlanta due to the Coke headquarters being so close. Upon arrival, I had to be a tourist and visit the factory when I first moved down and I found it really interesting how soda was so impacted by events throughout history. Using Google Ngram Viewer I made a graph comparing Pepsi, Coke and Dr. Pepper for another beverage comparison. Surprisingly, Dr. Pepper barely had any popularity even though it was first established in 1885 and was nationally produced and sold in 1904.

Coca-Cola shows a gradual rise from the early 1900’s and on, while Pepsi only takes off in the late 1930’s. Both beverages were created around the 1890’s, however Coke had a brilliant marketing scheme where salesmen would hand out coupons for a free coke. Pepsi’s gained popularity in 1936 with the introduction of a 12 oz. bottle. This was twice as much soda for the same price as a bottle of Coke, encouraging price-watching consumers to buy Pepsi over Coke.

On the graph, there is a huge drop on the graph for Coca-Cola in the mid-1960’s. This is because at this point in time in history, many women began to count their calories. This led to the creation of TaB which had only one calorie and was more appealing to calorie conscious consumers. From the 70’s and on there is a huge rise in popularity for both companies because the competition was growing fierce. From then on, the marketing battle began and both companies focused on who could claim more fame in the worldwide market.


Cancer and Society

I struggled in the beginning to create an idea to make my Pecha Kucha on. Mr. Rettberg kept telling us to find something that really interested us or was a part of our lives, but I still couldn’t think of anything that would have enough content to do a whole presentation. I kept delving into my personal life and I realized that cancer has played a pretty big role in my family, so I decided to stick with the idea. Connecting it to our class subject of “Data, Culture, and Information” was not too bad because there are several statistics, articles, and research  out there that I could use for my purpose. Now, I did not want to just lecture the class about cancer and its effects; I wanted to give them my own opinion on how it affects our culture and society.

I was hesitant at first to follow through with my conclusion, that cancer has a positive effect on society, because the last thing I wanted to do was offend anybody in the audience if they had had a rough personal struggle with cancer. So I built my argument up slowly and tried to never say anything that might have made someone angry. To give background info on cancer, I used a few diagrams to show how the cells develop. In particular, I like the picture of our social circles and how we can all be connected. It starts off with one person in the middle who, in this case has cancer or knows someone that has cancer. That news spreads to a close group of people, just one or two other people. But those people end up telling others and eventually more and more people are affected by the news of cancer. It helped me make my point that we probably all know someone who has been touched by cancer, proving that cancer really is something that we all have in common.Six Degrees of Separation


Another of my favorite pictures from my PK is the tree made up of people, all supporting each other.People Tree

I though this image did a great job of supporting my argument when it came to the definition of society. A community works together as a whole, almost as a singe unit, but that’s only if each individual works together. Notice how each person is holding up another, representing the dependence we have on other people in our lives. I made the point that Cancer brings us together and gives us a sense of compassion and drive throughout our society, and I believe this picture helped the audience make sense of what I was trying to say.

Overall, the process of creating the PK was pretty interesting. At first it sounded difficult to line up the slides with my words, but after several edits of my script and a dozen trial runs, I finally got my timing down and achieved almost a seamless transition between slides that kept my thoughts and points in order and not all over the place or rushed.

MyFitnessPal: The Datafication of Nutrition

When I was initially choosing my topic, I had it narrowed down to the datafication of nutrition. From there, I initially thought of nutritional apps, but struggled to find a clear direction from there. I had trouble deciding how specific was too specific, so I began my research and decided to let my topic emerge on its own.

For me, the argument came before the topic. As I was doing research, I tried to be open-minded to all sides of the problem at hand – people having difficulty managing their health and diet. Once I decided that I strongly felt the apps were helping people become more healthy, I gained more direction. From there, I saw that there are many different kids of nutritional apps, so it would be best to choose which one I thought was the most effective, and talk about why and how.

When I am presented with information, I like being able to visualize it clearly. Data and information alone can often feel intangible or unimaginable. For this reason, I tried to choose images that put whatever I was saying into perspective. After I was done giving the presentation, I wanted people to be able to go back, see the image, and immediately recall the main concepts I talked about during that slide.

One example is that of the image of one serving of ice cream.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.23.40 PM

During this section, I talked about how low calorie counts and percentages on nutrition labels are often deceiving. This image clearly puts what I said into perspective because it allows the audience to relate the portion size to how much ice cream they personally eat. Without this image, they might not have realized how small 1/2 cup actually is because “1/2” can be used to describe something from as small as a cookie to as large as an entire cake.

The image of the shocked girl also puts the text into perspective.

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During this slide, I talked about the benefits of receiving instant feedback. While I spoke, I provided the audience with the proper knowledge needed to know what is going on in the image. Because the audience is provided with some creative freedom, the audience can better understand why immediate feedback is helpful because they themselves make the connection between the feedback and the girl’s expression. They can imagine what she saw, what may have caused her to have that expression, and what she might be feeling.

One of my weaknesses during the in-class presentation had to do with connecting with the audience. I felt more at peace with a script at hand because I knew it helped me articulate myself greatly. Still, if I had memorized it, I may have been able to make more eye-contact and better engage my audience. I found doing so on the web easier because there was less pressure, so I could have a more conversational tone of voice. Over all, I enjoyed the experience and will use this style of presentation in the future.

The Maturation of Cartoons

I decided to use the Google Ngram to see find the popularity of specific cartoons and cartoon TV channels. This idea came to me because I used to spend hours at a time watching cartoons as a kid and I wanted to see how they have changed in today’s TV. The graph shows that Nickelodeon has been the most popular channel throughout its existence. Disney Channel used to be the second most popular out of the three (Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel), but Cartoon Network has recently surpassed it. This data shows that when kids our age were around 5 or so, the Disney channel was more popular, but as we grew older we changed preferences to Cartoon Network. Nickelodeon seems to appeal to a broader age spectrum and this might have to do with its Nick at Night section. As a kid, I was always more interested in Cartoon network than I was with Disney Channel so I can see why this shift happened. The shift could have occurred because of the release of Pokemon right around that time. Back in the day, I used to watch every episode of some of those early seasons.

Ngram Graph

I picked those three specific TV shows (Spongebob, Rugrats, and Family Guy) because they represented three parts of my life. I watched Rugrats when I was a toddler, Spongebob when I was in grade school, and Family Guy from then on. The graph seems to represent kids my age moving on from show to show. Rugrats was the biggest, then Spongebob overtook it, and if the graph kept on going, I would assume the Family Guy overtakes Spongebob around 2010.

It is very interesting how this graph seems to map my generation’s maturation just through the relative frequency of a few cartoon channels and TV shows. I definitely experienced a feeling of nostalgia while doing this experiential post and I very much enjoyed it.

The Positive Impact of Steroids on the MLB


I found it easy to come up with a topic for my Pecha-Kucha. Since baseball is my favorite sport, I thought it would be fun and easy to just focus on the MLB. Trying to make my joy fit into the topic of this class was a little more difficult though. Eventually, I decided to make my Pecha-Kucha on how steroids had a positive effect on Major League Baseball. I made this choice because I could use data prove my point and I was able to talk about how the American culture somewhat ignored the issue.

Making a P-K was easier than just putting together a slideshow or just writing an essay. The two working together allowed me to use both to get my argument across better. I didn’t have to go into as much detail on some topics because a picture was there to help me explain it. I started my Pecha-Kucha by writing a script. Once I got the script to about 6:40, I started practicing the script and marking where I was in the script every twenty seconds. Then, I chose a picture that I thought best represented the topic I was talking about during those twenty second intervals. I feel like my web presentation was better than my in class presentation. In class, I was nervous for some reason so I ended up talking faster which threw off the timing of my slides. That led to a picture of a snail on the screen when I was talking about nothing to do with snails. I was able to better monitor my time and speak at a better pace on the web presentation. My web presentation didn’t finish in the time that I wanted it to, but overall, I believe it was slightly better.

This picture allowed me to show a couple of the points that I made. It appeared when I was talking about slugging percentagRuth did it on hotdogs & beere; I was hoping that it would indicate that these players were putting up crazy numbers with PEDs, whereas Babe Ruth was putting up the same numbers the right way. An unintended consequence of this picture was that it showed how fans didn’t support the use of steroids, yet they still showed up to games and filled the league’s pockets.

I believe the following picture is the most influential picture in my whole presentation. It shows the MLB’s all-time home run leaders, and it shows the players suspected of PED use in red. This picture assists me by showing that the most impressive numbers were put up during the steroid era. What I like most about this picture is that it allows the audience to quickly see the players suspected of PED use and how successful their careers were; that was helpful because I didn’t need to elaborate on a topic that could be summed up in 15 seconds.

All-time HR Leaders

Trekker and Exploration Pecha Kucha Recording and Reflection


During this slide, I was discussing how I got trapped on the side of Mt. Madison. I used this picture of my map to show approximately where I got lost, and how I close I was to getting down below tree line, and back to my car.  


During this slide, I was discussing how the conditions worsened as time went on. I took this picture climbing up Mt. Washington. It also serves as a great illustration of how there isn’t always a distinct trail when above treeline. During my presentation, I described how at times the trail was only marked by small piles of rocks, this showed that.

In my pecha kucha, I didn’t effectively utilize most of my images as part of my presentation. My presentation would have been about the same if I didn’t have them. Most of them where simply illustrations of key words that came up during that section of my narration. However I think I used the pictures most effectively while I was talking about my own experiences because they were pictures I took and they showed the sort of conditions and terrain that I experienced.

I decided to do my pecha kucha on google trekker and why humans feel the need to explore because I had been asking myself that question recently. I went backpacking alone for four days over fall break, and my friend kept asking me why I was going, they said it was dangerous and I could hurt and stranded in the middle of the woods. I agreed with them, and went anyways, and thought the whole trip about why I wanted to go. After I got back, I still didn’t quite have an answer, so I ended up doing a bunch of research on the subject, and decided to use it as the topic of my pecha kucha.

For my presentation, I scripted about two thirds of it, and did the rest on the spot. The part I left unscripted was where I shared my own personal near death experience. I thought it would come across as more genuine if I didn’t script it, but I think I should have had some structure, such as bullet points of topics for each slide because I quickly got off track with the pictures in my slides.


Enter the minds of Aiden and Michel, the two men that managed to turn something as freeflowing  and liberal as the English language into something so incredibly concrete and predictable. Aiden and Michel measure the trends of certain words in the English language and track their usage. Using this method, they can then predict just how the English language will evolve, and more specifically will be able to see just which words will still be around in say, a year from now. With enough data, they can even go as far as to predict exactly when it is a particular word will be phased out with surprising accuracy.

Aiden and Michel also pioneer the use of irregular verbs that take on a vowel change to signify a tense change and how they still have managed to coexist with the more simple verbs that take on suffixes to signify a tense change. After careful research, they determined that the irregular verbs are a remnant of a language from nearly 12,000 years ago. This makes sense, as English came from this language, as did a number of other languages. As a result, the data that Aiden and Michel have collected here could very easily be applied to every other language that came form the mother language which is a rather huge breakthrough.

Experiential Blog Post: Google NGrams

I decided to look at the relative frequency of words that apply to women and their roles in society over the course of time to find insights about their status or recognized importance.

All Comparisions
All Comparisons

For my experiment I compared “women”, “mother”, “wife”, “girl”, “female” and “lady”. It’s clear from the outset that the occurrence of “women” is far higher than the other words that were compared and really spikes in the late 1900’s especially in the early 90’s. I realized now (far after the fact) that I forgot “woman” from the initial analysis but including it doesn’t change the trends that much. Oddly enough its not quite as pronounced as “women” and doesn’t spike up as significantly either.

"Women" vs "Woman"
“Women” vs “Woman”

Ignoring whatever is the cause of the difference, the two words still trend together fairly well. The occurrence of “female” also tracks pretty well.

"Women" vs "Wife"
“Women” vs “Wife”

On the other hand, over the past 300 years, the word “wife” stays fairly stable and unchanged. I think this points to a difference between the traditional role women play (in the household) and the emphasis on the actual women themselves. While traditional roles and words describing those (like “wife” and “mother”) stay relatively constant throughout recent history, words describing the people themselves occur more as importance and attention is directed at them.

Looking at the early half of the seventeenth century and even up to the year 1900, the word “women” actually occurs less than “mother”. I think this really points to the difference and culture shift that is indicated in the written English language.