Google Books, Now Featuring Big Fluffy Clouds

Google Books announced today that it’s added a “Common Terms and Phrases” cloud on the overview page for some of its books. We can’t call it a tag cloud, because these aren’t tags, so I’ll call it a term cloud.

For an example let’s look at Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp By John Avery Lomax . A little past halfway down the page you’ll get a cloud of commonly reoccurring words that looks like this:

Term Clouds on Google Books

Term Clouds on Google Books

Click on any of the words in the cloud and Google will take you to search results for that word in the full text of the book. In the case of this book the cloud was a bit misleading; “Whiskey Bill,” for example, appears several times in a song which is why it got such a big tag.

Taken by itself, I think this is interesting. A fun toy. What made me really raise my eyebrows and go “whee!” when I read it, however, was the fact that the New York Times last week announced that it was going to release its thesaurus. That’s over a million terms.

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could go to the New York Times and do a keyword search, then get the thesaurus terms for the your search results and apply them to a Google Book search? Or how about doing that in reverse? I’ve found a book in Google Books I really like, and I want to learn more. I can look for more books on Google or I can search for terms in Google’s book cloud against the New York Times thesaurus and get current articles on my topic of interest.

I mean, I could do that if anybody ends up making a tool to do that.

After poking around a little I could not find a way to search Google Books just for items in the term clouds. Aw, c’mon Google…

Categories: News

Tagged as: , ,