- Why are these frequencies so low?
Remember, this chart gives the ratio of n-grams you searched to the entire set of n-grams in the announcements. It doesn’t tell you in what percentage of all announcements this phrase appeared; think of it as revealing the percentage of all similarly long phrases that are made up by the phrase.
- What is “smoothing”?
Smoothing is a way to average estimates over time in order to prevent too much “noise,” or peaks and valleys from year to year. A smoothing factor of 2 will average a given year’s result with the 2 years before and after it. This keeps the trend line looking more stable, which might help in determining changes over longer periods of time. If you do want to check out the non-smooth data, just choose a smoothing factor of 0.Of course, this tool is subject to a lot of bias: with the exception of the “just show me a good search” searches, it allows the user to find only what he or she enters into the “search” box, and—of course—it examines a fairly non-representative subset of couples. According to Rap Genius writer ATodd, this section of The Newspaper of Record “is a perfect natural experiment designed to answer the question: What do the world’s most self-important people think is important?” Self important, social climbing, deliriously happy, a mirror of our times? You have fun with the searches and decide.