Hey Baby!” — article on IBM researcher Mark Wattenberg’s NameVoyager app, a cute little data analysis tool that allows quick and easy comparisons of the popularity of baby names. The app got 500,000 hits in its first two weeks, with no ad campaign or other press.

Key features that Wattenberg thinks make this interface popular:

  1. Easy interaction: not complicated! Users just type in the first letters of names they are interested in and move the mouse over the graph for details.
  2. Social data analysis: people interact, converse about what they find, encourage other people to try experiments. They learn from each other and stimulate each other’s curiosity.
  3. Immediate information: you type in a few letters, and pow! you get a refreshed graph.

So consider these factors with the HULK. Want to get people interested? Make those stats available immediately. Make it as easy as possible to get information on who’s voting how (and how they’ve voted historically). Make it easy to run numbers and then to tell others how to run those same numbers, to replicate any particular interesting bit of data mining and experimenting.

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