How Did "Ezra" Get So Popular?
A couple months ago, MIT got a lot of attention for a slick presentation they made at the TED conference. The product was called "the Sixth Sense," and it was sort of like a Minority Report interface for shoppers. Looking for information on the finest brand of toilet paper? Point your gizmo at the pack of Charmin' and let 'er rip. Your sixth sense would stream online information through your daily activities. You'd be able to navigate the world with the help of the hive mind. See for yourself:
Wolphram Alpha, the new search engine that's exciting nerds everywhere, seems like the forerunner to that. It sells itself as "an online service that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from structured data, instead of providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer." In other words, it answers rather than links. But it couldn't seem to tell me anything. I asked about the finest brand of toilet paper. It was confused. I asked about the number of uninsured in America. Nothing. So I went back to 1997 and did what any new user of a search engine does. I typed in my name.
And that worked. "Ezra," it seems, is getting a lot more popular. Wolfram hooked me up with a graph:
The big jump happens in the early-90s. But why? I doubt the band Better Than Ezra convinced a lot of parents to go with the name. Is it the rise of Kabbalah? Prescience about my future success? A sudden spike in Ezra Pound's reputation?