The Name Navigator

Just caught this cool analysis of names (via Digg via Facebook) and got that sort of lost opportunity/deflated feeling given that I’ve had a mostly ignored side project for the last couple of weeks building something related: a tool for anyone to do exactly that sort of analysis on any name, state by state and nationwide, from 1910 onwards. Using virtually identical color coding / intensity displays (not that blue and pink is particularly unique).

Time is short and I got beaten in delivering the goods (well, sort of. I skipped doing just an analysis and went directly to building a tool to enable analysis). I’ll do a mad rush tonight and in coming days to get it out there.

I was inspired by some analysis that made the rounds a month ago, as I suspect the author of the linked post was. Data is beautiful, and given that the US government freely provides it I really wanted to delve into the incredible rise in the name Jennifer in the late-70s/early-80s.

I wanted to answer whether it represented a true national rise, or if the entropy of names just increased enough that it emerged from an increasing diversity.

It’s also absolutely fascinating seeing how name trends have changed with the rise of the internet, where a connected world allows us to both follow trends and avoid following trends at a much faster pace.

That led to my classic tendency to build something larger than I originally intended, including a full GUI for anyone to do this analysis on any tracked name, exploring frequency and ranking state by state, on tablet, smartphone, PC, or any other modern web client (if SVG equipped). Querying data on my own preconceived curiosities is fun (I did it previously for domain names), but allowing other people to do their own investigations is even more rewarding.

Talk is cheap, though. While this is just a zero-income side project I’ll get it completed for your enjoyment.

Detailed Planning