Visualizing the Decline of Liberty and the Rise of Equality

Posted: July 20, 2011 in Data Visualization
Tags: , , ,

As a I searched for some data visualization software for work today, I rediscovered Google Ngrams.  For those who don’t know, Google has over 15 million of the supposed 130 million unique books ever written scanned into its Google Books database.  This 130 million books includes works written in languages other than English.  Google Ngrams allows one to search the text of any number of books in this database within any range of dates.  Searching the entire pool of available data (currently one can search books from 1500 to 2008), I crafted the below graph of literary references to the terms liberty, equality, and justice.

It’s interesting to see that justice and liberty have a fairly strong correlation, essentially mirroring each other with the exception of a 50 year “delay” for justice in the second half of the 19th century.  Notice also how equality slowly has increased in popularity to surpass liberty in our literature.


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