07. 12. 2006
What's in a name
Naming your child is always tricky. iVillage hosts a great site called Baby Naming Wizard: Name Voyager to help parents select names. Using data from the Social Security Administration, this java weblet graphs the top 1,000 names that were registered with Social Security in the US from the 1880s up to today. Using an elegant interface, you can enter any name and see how its popularity changed over time, which makes it an interesting sociological tool as well. For instance, Elvira has seen a major drop off after the 1910s and dropped off the charts by the 1980s, as Ashton had a hugh spike from 2000 - 2003. These phenomenon might correlate with the tabloids' coverage of one Mr. Kutcher along with the rise of a first name only B-list celebrity in Gothic clothing. Check out chapter 6 of Freakonomics to read about a theory on how names disseminate across our culture over time.
Thanks Burns (whose name does not appear in any decade).