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Location: Kyoto and Auckland
Work interests: research, editing, ethnobotany, prehistory, plant genetics
Affiliation/website: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: email = researchcooperative-at-gmail-dot-com
Favourite publications: Aroideana, Economic Botany, Farming Matters, PLoSOne

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Work: ethnobotany, plant ecology and genetics, human ecology, agricultural history, archaeology, museology
Affiliations: 1996-present: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. 1995: Freelance editor, Kyoto. 1994: JSPS Research Visitor, Kyoto University, Kyoto. 1993: Research Visitor, Australian National University, Canberra. 1991: Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.1990: STA Fellow, National Institute for Ornamental Plants, Vegetables, and Tea (NIVOT), Ano, Japan
Contact: National Museum of Ethnology, Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Japan 565-8511
Biographical: Established the Research Cooperative in 2001
Favourite Publications: Economic Botany, Ethnobotany Research and Applications, New Scientist, Minpaku Anthropology Newsletter, Archaeology in Oceania

Announcing: the "Google Usage Machine" (GUM) for millions of users

2012-10-28
By: Research Cooperative
Posted in: Online

Of course, it already exists, but I am just trying to give a name to what people are already doing: using the Google search engine to discover what is common usage for a particular word, spelling, or phrase. Or to check facts and their usage.

Take for example these leading sentences from the Google company description (Internet: 28th Oct. 2012, http://www.google.com/about/company/):

"Googles mission is to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful. Our company has packed a lot into a relatively young life. Since Google was founded in 1998, weve grown to serve hundreds of thousands of users and customers around the world."

The first sentence indicates a present and future quality. The second sentence indicates a past achievement. The third sentence understates the past achievement with the statement: "weve grown to serve hundreds of thousands of users". Google itself has recently reported more than 100,000,000 users (see http://www.quora.com/How-many-users-does-Google+-have-1).

In this way, we can use Google to show that Google is not using itself to update its information on users and customers (I count the latter as a subcategory of user).

All this is a distraction from my main point, that using Google to check the usage of words (and the usage of facts) is now common, and incredibly useful for pedantic editors. Try this example:

1, "second hand"
2. "second-hand"
3. "secondhand"

The exact results of search on each of these usages will vary from day to day, but overall, we can expect to get a good idea of what is common usage. I need this for a newsletter I am editing today. Here are the results:

1. About 168,000,000 results
2. ditto
3. About 81,400,000 results

In short, the idea is usually expressed as two separate words, with or without a hyphen.

Unfortunately, I do not know how to force Google to recognise the difference between a hyphen and a space in this example. A purpose-built Google Usage Machine is needed to allow very refined searches in relation to the search terms used, and the areas of Internet searched. The present Search Engine is being used for a purpose for which it was not intended.

If a purpose-built Google Usage Machine exists, or can be built, I would be very happy. And the authors being edited might also be happy. Even if the acronym is GUM, the Machine would help reduce friction in the process of writing and editing.

How many people might benefit from such a machine?

Potentially many millions, not just the "hundreds of thousands of users and customers" still claimed by Google.

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