The nifty tool that you see pictured above is the Books Ngram Viewer. Using Google's massive collection of scanned books (at Google's estimate about ten per cent of everything that's ever been published) the service lets users track and compare the popularity of words or phrases over time.
The comparison I ran shows the rise and fall of the words "capitalism" and "communism" between the years 1860 and 2008. It's interesting to note that the explosion of the word "capitalism" doesn't occur until the 1930s, and in the late 1950s and early 60s "communism" almost manage to overtake "capitalism," before sliding into obscurity. It also seems that as of 2000, both words are in steep decline. I guess now that capitalism's won there's less of a need to talk about it. (At least until 2008 and that whole financial meltdown thingy.)
Screenshot from the Books Ngram Viewer.
Friday, December 17, 2010
By Stephen M.