An interactive look at the history of General Electric serves up a picture of trends in innovation and technology since 1892.
To make the above interactive, GE's data-visualization team scanned each of the company's annual reports from 1892 to 2011 -- 6,000 pages -- and processed them for keywords such as "digital" or "solar". Each column is a year's report; each rectangle represents pages. The pages appear vertically, with the cover at the top and in order from there down. If you click on a page, you can zoom in to see the actual reference (though unfortunately some of the scans are a little tough to read). Pop it out to full screen; play around with it for a bit. It's power is, after all, visual.
One of the most striking changes in terms of language is how the word "international" has gone our of favor and "global" has come to stand in its place.
I dug around on this a bit, to try to figure out some reasons propelling the shift. First: GE is not alone on this. Google's n-gram tool lets us track these two words as they appear in books over the same period. While GE's shift was more dramatic, Google finds a similar growth in the word "global" in recent years.