Googling for googling on Google Ngram Viewer

Ngram Viewer apparently allows to trace the frequency of words and phrases across the Google Books database. The search can be conducted on different data ranges.

While I do understand most literature on the use of google as a search tool would appear in journal articles, these do trickle down to books too.

My current research focuses on the use of Google as a search tool, as an alternative or a substitute the library, and the consequent place of library within the current academic community. Therefore, it I believe is natural that I will search for ‘googling’ on the Ngram Viewer. The figure below is the resulting Ngram. It appears 2008 is the latest it can search for at the moment.

Google search engine was introduced in 1996 and and gained popularity quite quickly. Google interface and the relevancy of results retrieved and the breadth of coverage by its meta crawlers were far more superior to the then popular search engines and web directories like AltaVista and Nothern Light, to name a few, that I was heavily using around 1998ish.

Looking at the Ngram it is somewhat surprising that it is picking up the search term prior to 1995. Must be a glitch somewhere. Nonetheless, the literature shows that by early 2000s the term ‘googling’ had become a commonly used term for ‘searching’.

Brophy’s (2004) thesis on the topic ‘is Google good enough’ highlights that Google was used as a verb synonymous with web searching as early as 2003. This can be evidenced by Gorder’s (2003) brief article titled ‘the Googling of astronomy’ associating to searching without any question. Similarly, Walder (2003) in a note where he advice his readers on how to find his article, he uses ‘googling’ to refer to searching.

Quint refers to ‘googlification’  as well as ‘googling’ in her 2002 publication. Googling as a cultural phenomenon in an everyday information seeking context was briefly outlined by Serjeant (2004) in an information technology newsletter. Theyer (2005), in her opinion article, outlines googling as a predominant activity in her academic information seeking at grad school. Mostafa (2005) stated that ‘Googling has become synonymous with doing research’ (p. 51). Brabazon’s (2006) critical look at the over-dependence on Google by the academic population highlights a flattening of expertise and terms it ‘google-effect’. It can be concluded that starting from 2004 information professionals has taken an interesting in researching the use of Google in the information seeking context.

With these, and other, early scholarly scrutiny into the why and how of googling as well as the evident popularity of Google as a reliable starting point for searching for information, as well as the common-place of Google, it is not surprising that that the term ‘googling’ appears to have drastically multiplied over the last few years.

Google claims to have added 12 million books to Google Books by 2012 and the Ngram shows that by 2007 0.00000200% of these books uses the term ‘googling’ in some context.

Here is another Ngram comparing the similar terms. Interesting to see the word ‘library’ going low and the use of ‘Google’ increasing.

Library, Database, Google, Googling


Brabazon, T. (2006) The Google Effect: Googling, Blogging, Wikis and the Flattening of Expertise. Libri, vol 56. pp. 157-167.Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. Atlantic Monthly, Vol.176, No.1, pp.101-108.

Brophy, J. (2004). Is Google good enough? A study comparing a major search engine with academic library research (Unpublished master’s thesis). London: City University.

Gorder, P.F. (2003). The googling of astronomy. Computing in Science & Engineering, 5(4), 6-7. Retrieved from

Mostafa, J. (2005). Seeking better web searches. Scientific American, 292(2), 51-57.

Quint, B. (2002). Searcher’s voice: “Google: (v.)…”. Searcher: the Magazine for Database Professionals, 10(2), 6-9.

Serjeant, J. (2004, April 30). The Googling phenomenon. CIOL Newsletter. Retrieved from

Theyer, H. (2005). Googling through Grad School. Library Journal, 130(14), 52.

Walder, P. (2003). Call-by-value is dual to call-by-name. 8th Interntaional Conference on Functional Programming (CIFP 03), Uppsala, Sweden, Augu 25-29, 2003.


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I write as I think. I think as I write.

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