on Efficiency, Depression, Happiness, and Beer

The Google Ngram viewer charts the incidence of terms in 5.2 million books dating back centuries. It’s a pretty amazing tool.

Choosing the words ‘efficiency‘ and ‘depression‘ I graphed their usage over the last 500 years. I found a close correlation between the terms, with both beginning to rise around 1750 and sharply peaking around 1925. As a control variable I also included ‘weather’, which showed little correlation to either efficiency or depression. Something to think about as we continue to make ourselves faster, better, and stronger!


To avoid being too much of a downer on a Friday, I want to also include my findings on the relationship between happiness and beer. If this doesn’t demonstrate true progress, I don’t know what will – we’ve almost reached equilibrium!

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 11.12.36 AM

I don’t expect to break any ground with these findings, I just wanted to share what is a very fun set of data to play around with. For more nuanced and careful analysis, see the book ‘Uncharted – Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture‘ by Aiden and Michel.

Leave a Reply