I must confess I am kind of addicted to ted talks. I have a weakness for witty talks. Yesterday I’ve found this talk (I was just looking on the “funny” tag list)
Basically, these Harvard guys worked on a huge amount of information from google’s books, observing trends in the frequency of words and/or phrases and/or names. They called it culturomics, and wrote a foxy article on Science about it, called Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books. In its usual googlesque way, Google decided to publicize the idea and now everybody can do his/her query and produce a foxy diagram about it. Dommage, you can’t make a search on Italian books.
So I could only look at the presence of Goldoni and Chiari in France from 1700 to 1900. I just did it for fun and because I was curious. If you click on dates the system redirects you to the real google books’ query. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid the system making mistakes: “…San Pietro. Chiari orizzonti…” will be counted as well as the right quotation of the author.
Talking about quantitative literature I must mention mr. Franco Moretti. Find his three articles about how to use quantitative history, geography and evolutionary theory in studying literature in the New Left Review, with a reply by Christopher Prendergast. Moretti soon after collected them in a book.
I was actually thinking to write a huge pars destruens against Harvard’s bunch and Moretti, but I will do it later, as soon as I stop looking at the frequency of bad words and curses and making charts of it.