Changing baby names: yet another visualization

The world of data visualization maintains as tight a canon as any field. Float around for a few months, and you'll see Minard's Napoleonic war visualization and Nightingale's Coxcombs or the 1870 US census atlas dozens of times. For new data, there's nothing like the Social Security Administration's database of names. People love them some names. (If you've never seen any of these: One of the more interesting ones I've seen lately is David Mimno's topic model of names treating each state-year combination as a topic)

So this seems like a decent way to test out some elements of the bookworm library for text analysis. Mimno's text-document model is a nice way to dump the Social Security data into tools designed originally for bag-of-words text analysis. So that's what I've done here: treat the name data as 10,000 books (one for each state-gender-year combination over the last 100 years) with the names of every child born listed. From there, I've basically just dropped it into the Bookworm system. Consequently, there are going to be some weird things going on here. It says you're searching for "words", but really you're searching for names. Straightforward line charts are available here. This one here uses a heatmp, which I've found to be the most useful way of exploring bidimensional data (here, set up as year and state).

The really interesting part of this for me had nothing to do with the data itself: it was about how to put the states in order. Read that link for an excessively elaborate description.

Oh, and click on that colorbar to switch axis types. It's awesome, I promise.

Made by Ben Schmidt. See more maps and visualizations

The real point of this visualization isn't to show you anything you don't know about baby names. It's to test whether the D3 Bookworm visualization library I wrote likes being dropped into a different HTML stylesheet than the one it grew up in. But like everything with names, this one is kind of fun. If you want to run this same visualization off your own server, you can get pretty close to doing it by cloning the host repository.