Tracking Social Innovation in Google Books

Heard about Google Books “Ngram Viewer” this week from Peter Dobkin Hall.  Google have supposedly scanned about 4% of all books in print and now offered a word search utility (search results not only track usage over time, but yield the books in which the terms appear).

One of the first references to “social innovation” dates back to 1826 – in Mignet’s book on the History of the French Revolution. So what? To know that someone used the term social innovation many years ago may seem more trivial than helpful to current discussions.  What may be interesting is tracking how the term “social innovation” has changed over time as perhaps the variety of expressions/users/contexts will generate new insights for researchers and practictioners.

For fun I put in two other terms: social enterprise and social entrepreneurship!