I love Benjamin Schmidt’s blog, where he uses R and a huge corpus of 19th century literature to ask questions about how words (and ideas) evolved over time. One such question might be: which came first, “capitalist” or “capitalism,” and how did the balance shift over time? Schmidt graphs it—
—and commenter Dan narrates:
[The story is] one that begins with “capital” as an object of practical use and Smithian investigation, moves on to “capitalists” as a term of art for the skilled employer of capital, and becomes an increasingly pejorative “capitalism” by the turn of the twentieth century, before the mid-twentieth century re-appropriation of capitalism and capitalist by big business as positive goods.
Data viz meets American intellectual history. How could I not love this? Here’s more from the New York Times on the project.