Is it possible to study something as ill-defined as culture in a quantitative manner? Researchers from Harvard have collaborated with Google and some traditional publishers to answer that question with a qualified “yes.” By leveraging a portion of Google’s massive library of digitized books, the team has created what they call a “culturome,” with which they can track the use of language and terms across hundreds of years. This lets them track not only trends in language and usage, but the rise and fall of celebrities and historic events in the books of many eras. And, thanks to Google, the underlying data has been exposed via a Web interface, allowing others to perform their own analysis…
Here’s a link to the Google tool they mention. I don’t know how useful this is to anybody, but it can be interesting (and fun in a geeky way).