Thursday, July 31, 2008

NameVoyager: Baby name visualization over time

Today I ran across this novel visualization tool called NameVoyager. It allows you to see how the popularity of baby names change over time. The data is collected from the Social Security Administration.

From the screenshot below, you can see all boy's names that start with E. Although Edward was very popular in the late 1800s, Eric started to dominate in the 1950s, and Elijah, Evan, and Ethan (our son's name, ranked #3 in 2007) have taken over since the 1990s.

My name hasn't fared so well (#6 in the 1880s, #262 in 2007). My wife's name went from a high of #13 in the 1970s, but it's since dropped to #105.

The creator of NameVoyager, Martin Wattenberg, writes about it in a white paper entitled Baby Names, Visualization, and Social Data Analysis.

BTW, if you are really interested in how your name affects your socioeconomic status, check out chapter 6 of Freakonomics by Steven Levitt.


Another interesting name visualization tool is In addition to showing popularity of names over time, they also show geographical popularity of baby names. The map below, set at 1992, shows how Ethan was really popular in the northeast and north-central states before it became popular in all the states.