In a series of papers on the history of American innovation, Mikko Packalen at the University of Waterloo and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University reported on their indexing of every one-word, two-word, and three-word phrase that appeared in more than four million patent texts in the last 175 years. Why, you ask? They wanted to measure the significance of new inventions. The Atlantic brought this news to us in their article, “‘From Atoms to Bits’: A Brilliant Visual History of American Ideas.”

To focus their search on truly new concepts, they recorded the year those phrases first appeared in a patent. They ranked each concept’s popularity based on how many times it reappeared in later patents.

There is an interesting visual history of the 20 most popular sequences of words in each decade from the 1840s to the 2000s in the article. Take a moment and view it.

Any records management system requires a system of indexing to create findability. We know that indexing against a strong, standards-based taxonomy can ensure comprehensive search results. Access Innovations is one of a very small number of companies able to help its clients generate ISO/ANSI/NISO compliant taxonomies to produce comprehensive results.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.