Big Data Comes to ‘Downton Abbey’

A Harvard researcher is using analytics and Big Data to find anachronistic language in “Downton Abbey” and other historical TV shows and movies. Benjamin Schmidt, a visiting graduate fellow at the Cultural Observatory at Harvard, writes the “Prochronisms” blog, comparing the dialogue of historical TV shows and movies—primarily “Downton Abbey” and “Mad Men”—to Internet corpuses of historical texts, mainly the 20-million-book Google Books library. By finding words and phrases in the dialogue that do not commonly appear in contemporary books and periodicals, Schmidt is able to find anachronisms that previously required a linguistics degree

Related Content