Tracking the spread of 29,000 baby names over the past century.

Inspired by a recent visualization of the most popular baby names, Brian Rowe of computational design studio Zato Novo wanted to make his own. His take? Visualizing how individual baby names have risen and fallen in popularity across the U.S. since the 1900's.

Created from U.S. Census data, Rowe’s interactive map lights up based on prevalence of a particular name in each state. Just plug in a name and watch its popularity spread across the country. There are 29,000 names in the database, so there’s a good chance you can try it out with your own name.  

"Jenny" appears to have gone mainstream in the early 1970s. 

In a blog post, Rowe shared some observations from creating the visualizations. He noticed the prevalence of names is sometimes geographically clustered. For example, Terrence was first popular in the Midwest in the 1940's but then became popular in the South by the 1980's. Rowe also thinks some names are clearly influenced by media and pop culture. He credits The Matrix (1999) for the sharp rise of “Trinity” and “Neo”. Here's a comparison of "Trinity" in 1998 versus 2000. 

Popularity of "Trinity" in 1998 (left) and 2000 (right).

(h/t io9)  

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