Dan Sinker, what's the last great thing you saw?
Using TV anachronisms to learn about changes in language, and trying to avoid complete curmudgeonhood in the process.

The Internet is stitched together by the odd love of obsessed people, and every time I stumble down one of the rabbit holes left by one of them, I fall in love with the whole of the internet further and deeper. Today I fell in love with this guy, who is meticulously tracking all the language anachronisms in Mad Men (though he started his logging with Downton Abbey) to a resolution level that, frankly, takes my breath away and leaves me feeling dizzy.

Just drink in a sentence like this: "Megan gets 'a callback for' an audition. This is, the data says, a candidate for the worst anachronism of the season. The word 'callback' is about 100x more common by the 1990s, and 'callback for' is even worse. The OED doesn't have any examples of a theater-oriented use of 'callback' until the 1970s."

That, right there, is everything right with the internet.

It's sites like Prochronism, or the Internet Car Movie Database — that lovingly indexes vehicle appearances in film — which I also just discovered today, or any of the endless examples of the careful, loving chronicling of the things we'd normally overlook entirely, that make me love the internet — and the people behind it — all the more.

Daniel Sinker heads up the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership.
MAY 16, 2012  •  GREAT THING 13 OF 20

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