Thursday, June 4, 2009

Google Squared and Biblical Studies

Another interesting new project from the Google folks is called Google Squared. What it does is attempt to create a grid of related data based on search parameters entered by the user. According to its developers:

Google Squared is a search tool that helps you quickly build a collection of facts from the Web for any topic you specify.
  • Facts about your topic are organized as a table of items and attributes (we call them "Squares" for fun).
  • Customize these Squares to see just the items and attributes you're interested in.
  • See the websites that served as sources for the information in your Square.
  • Save and share Squares with others.
There are some interesting examples of what it can do here, but I thought I would try some examples related to biblical studies. I was trying to think of some things that might be interesting in a grid, and I first tried listing the codices "alexandrinus sinaiticus vaticanus bezae." As you can see in the results below, it got some aspects correct but missed badly on others.
Fortunately, you can easily delete rows or columns and just as easily create a new row or column with your own description.
It also has a nice feature (when signed in to a Google account) of being able to save the grid. For example, if you click HERE, you can see a grid I generated using various English versions of the Bible. The results seem a bit more apt than my previous example, but there are some strange ones here too. (LOLcat is a textual basis?)
As an another experiment, I tried listing each of the four Gospels and came up with THIS. It does not provided particularly satisfying results. So, using another option with this tool, I started out with an empty square and built up my own grid by row and added columns using suggested parameters. (See the graphic below or click HERE.)
Again, some odd results... a picture of Matthew McConaughey for Matthew and Luke Skywalker for Luke? The descriptions, mostly from Wikipedia, are more often correctly linked, but using the suggested column parameters of Date of Birth and Died provided a very strange mix.
So far this tool has provided some interesting connections but mostly it has provided comic relief. So I tried one more query that actually did return some perhaps insightful results. I typed in "Mark 6:34" and THIS is what I got. It appears to have taken the more significant words from that verse and returned separate analysis for each. That might have some value... (Different verses returned quite different results though...)
BOTTOM LINE: You would probably have to do quite a bit of customization to generate useful results, but some of the returns may be of occasional interest.
If you come up with an interesting query with helpful results, please share them here.
[HT: StephensWeb]

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