I was thinking today how much of the language intellectuals use to describe our place in history has changed, and in particular, how I don’t hear the word “postmodern” thrown around as casually as I used to a decade ago. Curious whether or not I could find evidence for this change, I went to Ngram–as I am apt–and ran some searches et voila! Theory confirmed. Looks like 1998 was the ebb. What happened? Did reviews of Radiohead’s Ok Computer and the Matrix movies overuse the term, and 9-11 sweep away our Baudrillardian/Foucauldian concerns with representations and power by making our fears seem suddenly too immediate?

Ngram Game Theory

Here is a chart from Google’s Ngram showing the frequency of “Game Theory” and “Decision Theory” over the last few decades in published books. Interesting to note the drop from 1970s through the 80s that then re-emerges, I imagine, due to the rise of modern computers–all while “Decision Theory” has a small hump in the 70s and undergoes a steady decline.

The discussions of matrices also seem less important now than they must have seemed previously, while the discussions of decision trees has become increasingly important. Perhaps “decision trees” are also a synonym for flowcharts?