Two weeks ago, Google chucked a shiny new Web toy down the chimneys of Internet-research nerds everywhere: the Google Books Ngram Viewer, a search tool/treasure hunt that shows you the frequency of specific words in literature going back to the 1500s. (For example, it turns out the word “slavery” spikes during the Civil War and Civil Rights movement. Imagine that!) Thanks to data provided by Harvard-led “culturomics” researchers, Ngram supposedly trawls 5.2 million books — roughly “four percent of all books ever published,” its creators say. While the Ngram itself has spurred plenty of its own controversy — chiefly concerning whether or not its potentially spotty results are actually worth a damn — we thought we’d put it to work settling a few hotly contested local debates. Because everything comes down to a popularity contest, right?
BOSTON GLOBE VS. BOSTON HERALD | Winner: pre-1970: Herald; post-1970: Globe
HARVARD UNIVERSITY VS. MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY | Winner: Harvard
BOSTON RED SOX VS. NEW YORK YANKEES | Winner: Yankees
BOSTON COLLEGE VS. BOSTON UNIVERSITY | Winner: BU
HOWIE CARR VS. WHITEY BULGER | Winner: pre-1996: Howie; post-1996: Whitey
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