Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Unstructured Names

Names fascinate me. They're these little semiotic labels that offer us a major component of our identity. When Number 6, in The Prisoner, exclaims that he's not a number, it evokes a chilling sense of our fear of identity loss.

The Name Voyager is a Java aplet that dynamically shows name trends (culled from American Social Security records) since 1880. You start by typing in a name and, as each letter is entered, it readjusts the graphs to include that subset of names.

It's also a mesmeric toy that's hard to put away. It's interesting to see how name popularities change over the years. As an example, Andrew has been mosly on the rise while Fred has, for all intents and purposes, dropped off of the map.

Have fun.

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