Boston vs Chicago

This week, Bad Data Bad is coming to live from downtown Chicago, just a few feet away from the Magnificent Mile!

I’m at the Science of Team Science conference, and so far it’s going pretty well.  I got a chance to present and discuss some of my research with people last night, and it’s fun having people recognize more of the psych aspect of what I’ve been doing.  Your normal bone marrow transplant crowd really doesn’t care about that part of anything, so it was nice to have people recognize the theories behind what I was doing.  They’re posting the abstracts online at some point, I’ll link to them when I figure that out.

Anyway, on my flight out here the data geek in me realized that a Boston/Chicago comparison would be a great input for the Google Ngram Viewer.  If you haven’t played with this yet, it’s fun.  Basically it tracks how many times the words you put in were mentioned in books over the last 200 years.  They uploaded a massive number of books to get the data, so the results are kind of fun.  Here’s Boston vs. Chicago:

For reference, Chicago wasn’t founded until 1837.  I tried running it starting at Boston’s founding in 1630, but that made a weird spike that made the rest of the graph look silly.  My guess is that’s a function of fewer books from that era loaded in to the database, since the y-axis is percentage.

For more about the project behind google ngrams, here’s my good friend TED to explain:

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