Archive for the ‘google’ Category

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Romeo and Juliet, with—Get your mind out the gutter!

Today Google released its Books Ngram Viewer, a remarkable statistical snapshot of the books in Google. The New York Times did an nice piece on it.

So I went to work on it. My guess was that, like much else with Google books, the data was ratty. It didn’t have to look far. At first glance this chart appears to show that “fuck” had a remarkable early history—being more popular in 1725 than even today! (link)

Don’t get too excited. A quick search on the phrase in books between 1700 and 1800 treed the cause:

Yes, Google can’t tell between an f and an ſ, the “s without a bar” more properly known as a long, descending or medial s. To the disappointment of many, Shakespeare wrote “suck’d.” The effect pops up all over. Here’s a graph of “crimſon” vs. “crimson.” If nothing else we can now follow the demise of the ſ with precision.

There’s no question this is a cool tool. But given Google’s grand ambitions and how common s is in English, it’s a pretty startling lapse.

Labels: google, google book search, humor

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Google goes after the Library of Congress for “mature content”

UPDATE: They relented. Woo-hoo!

LibraryThing shows Google Adsense ads on a small number of templates. The ads appear only if you’re not a member at all—paid or unpaid. They don’t make much money, but we’ve never had a problem with them.

Today I got a form letter from Google, alerting me that Google had detected “adult or mature content” on LibraryThing. They gave one example, the page for the Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) “Erotic stories.” No doubt some algorithm caught a few keywords, like “sex” or the common porn-word “Lolita” (it’s a book, guys).

Needless to say, they run ads against most of these books on Google Book Search. Our competitors, who all rely on Google Adsense for all their revenue run ads against the same books, apparently without incident (although, I suppose, one can hope!). I must therefore conclude, the problem is the Library of Congress Subject Headings, and that it’s a good thing the Sandy Berman-inspired LCSH “Strap-on Sex” hasn’t made it into LibraryThing yet!

A follow-up email triggered another form-letter, including the helpful suggestion to remove content like:

“image or video content containing lewd or provocative poses, strategically covered nudity, see-through or sheer clothing, and close-ups of breasts, butts, or crotches.”

I have accordingly been consulting with Casey on how to remove all the butt-shots from the Yale University MARC records.

I have three days to comply or be terminated. So, what do I do? Clearly I’m not getting anywhere with their response system. And LibraryThing has something like 100-millon pages. Should I start running pages against keyword lists before showing Google Ads?

That sounds like a big pain, I’ll tell you—and not worth it.

Labels: ads, google, google book search