Blog Post 1, Group B

As we head into our second week of short blog posts, we’ll hear from Blog Group B. To reiterate: last names up through Hu should post with Group A, and last names from Kim on should post with Group B.

Now that some of your classmates have done initial experiments with the OED and with Google Ngrams, I’d like Group B to experiment a bit more with the parameters and settings that Ngrams allows. Either build from one of your classmates’ experiences with Ngrams, or design a new set of words to consider.

The “Advanced” section in Google’s information on the NGram viewer will reveal new parameters you can play with in your search. You can, for example, make your search case-insensitive, compare the corpus of English to the corpus of English fiction, search words according to parts of speech, or use wildcards to expand your searches. If we search, for example, “digital *”, Google will reveal Ngrams for the top 10 search hits of that phrase.

Screenshot 2014-01-27 14.25.13Apparently, “digital computer” was very hot as a phrase when “computer” needed specification as a type. Now, we just assume that computers are digital, so it’s largely waned in usage.

In addition to these new search tools, you’ll notice the various links Google supplies underneath the Ngram viewer. These will take you to Google Books searches for the phrases in question, but isolate those phrases by a range of years.

Screenshot 2014-01-27 14.28.23If I want to see some typical examples of how “digital computer” was used between 1972 and 1974, I could see the top hits from Google Books for those years by clicking that link.

By tweaking the parameters and looking into some actual search results, we can get a bit more context about how these words were used at any given time. ┬áSo blog group B: your goal is to do a new search, or extend an old one with some of the “Advanced” Ngram parameters taken into account, and then to click through some of these links on the bottom of the page to get a sense of how the words in context read differently or confirm the more blunt information that an Ngram gives us. Then, as before, reflect on the experience–do the new parameters give you more faith in the information? Does being able to click through to Google Books search results make this a better research tool?



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