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Matt Blackwell (Gov)


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« February 9, 2011 | Main | March 2, 2011 »

1 March 2011

Michel and Liberman Aiden on "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books"

We hope that you can join us for the Applied Statistics Workshop tomorrow, March 2nd when we will be happy to have Jean-Baptiste Michel (Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology) and Erez Lieberman Aiden (Harvard Society of Fellows). You will find an abstract below. As always, we will serve a light lunch and the talk will begin around 12:15p.

“Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books”
Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Lieberman Aiden
CGIS K354 (1737 Cambridge St.)
Wednesday, March 2nd 12 noon


We constructed a corpus of digitized texts containing about 4% of all books ever printed. Analysis of this corpus enables us to investigate cultural trends quantitatively. We survey the vast terrain of ‘culturomics,’ focusing on linguistic and cultural phenomena that were reflected in the English language between 1800 and 2000. We show how this approach can provide insights about fields as diverse as lexicography, the evolution of grammar, collective memory, the adoption of technology, the pursuit of fame, censorship, and historical epidemiology. Culturomics extends the boundaries of rigorous quantitative inquiry to a wide array of new phenomena spanning the social sciences and the humanities.

Posted by Matt Blackwell at 8:20 PM


I’ve been a fairly long-time emacs/ESS user, but there’s a new IDE for R called Rstudio that has a lot of potential. At the very least, it is a huge improvement over the standard R GUI (both on the Mac and Windows). Strangely, though, there are some emacs-like commands (cut everything from the cursor to the end of the line) that are available in the Console, but not the source editor. Organizing the figures, help, workspace, and history is just great, though.

Posted by Matt Blackwell at 1:44 PM