Database Tries to Track Culture Quantitatively




База данных исседует культуру количественно

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We Americans love our fast food. And a new study shows that a little thing like a nutrition label is not gonna stop us when we want a breakfast burrito.
 
In January 2009 King County, Washington imposed mandatory menu labeling on all restaurant chains in the region, which includes Seattle and its surrounds. Restaurants were asked to disclose nutrition information, including a calorie count, about every item on the menu.
 
Then, over the next year, researchers in conjunction with local public health officials monitored food purchases at the Taco Time chain of restaurants. And they found that nothing changed. The total number of sales and the average calories per order were the same, regardless of whether the restaurant labeled its menu. The study appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. [citation to come]
 
Now, it could be that Taco Time customers were already wise to the relative nutritiousness of their meals, because the restaurant was highlighting its healthier options with a little logo before the law took effect.
 
So maybe all we need is a happy, "healthy icon" to keep us from overdoing it. Because pointing out that a large order of cheddar fries has 700 calories was not food for thought.
 
—Karen Hopkin

They call it culturomics: the obvious play on the word “genomics” looks at trends in human thought and culture.
Это называют "культурономикой":  игра слов на "геномике" уже стала тенденцией человеческой мысли и культуры


 But scientists say culturomics has been hampered by a lack of quantitative data.
Но учёные говорят, что культурономике мешает отсутствие количественных данных


 So researchers at Harvard, along with Google, Encyclopedia Britannica, and the American Heritage Dictionary, have come up with a new tool.
Поэтому исследователи из Гарварда совместно с компанией Гугл, Британской энциклопедией и Словарём американского наследия разработали новый инструмент


It’s a database of 5.2 million books, published since the year 1500. That’s four percent of all the books ever published, with a total of 500 billion words.
Это база данных из 5,2млн. книг, опубликованных в период с 1500г. Это 4% всех когда-либо опубликованных книг, в них 500млрд. слов


 
The focus is on English language culture, so three quarters of the books are in English.
В центре внимания ангоязычная культура, так что 3/4 книг на английском языке


Among the first findings of the research, published in the journal Science [Jean-Baptiste Michel et al., "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books"]: about, 8500 new words enter the English language annually. But many of them don’t end up in dictionaries.
Одно из первых открытий опубликовано в журнале "Наука" [Жан-Батист Мишель и др. "Количественный анализ культуры с использованием миллионов книг, занесённых в компьютер"]: около 8500 слов ежегодно возникает в английском языке. Но многие из них не попадают в словари

 And about fame—actors become famous around age 30, writers around 40, and politicians around 50. But the fame of politicians can eventually exceed that of actors.
И насчёт славы: актёры достигают славы в возрасте примерно  30 лет, писатели - около 40лет, а политики - около 50. Но слава политиков может в конце концов продержаться дольше, чем слава актёров


A Google tool called the Books Ngram Viewer is available based on this data—users can track the usage and frequency of a word or phrase over the past few centuries.
На основе этой базы Гугл выпустил инструмент the Books Ngram Viewer , где пользователи могут проследить использование и частоту слова или выражения за последние столетия


 Thus, we can watch the fall and rise of Melville. And soon the rise and fall of Snooki.
Теперь мы можем сами увидеть, как достигло вершин и пало слово Melville. А вслед за ним и слово Snooki


—Cynthia Graber

 

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