31 March 2010

About This Site

Today we launch this new site and starting tomorrow, we will begin posting about the stories behind names.

This site began back in 1998 as a site called "WHAT'S IN A NAME" that was a finalist in the first ThinkQuest Junior Internet competition for students.

It was created by my son, Drew Ronkowitz, when he was 11 years old. The students who worked on the site included Ashley Martin-Caruso, Kimberly Kaplan, and Cooper Brooks with some coaching from myself, Ken Ronkowitz, and Jon Hay. (Drew also was a team member the following year of the Endangered New Jersey site team which was the 1999 ThinkQuest USA Gold Award winner.)

In 1998, it was a featured link for the Canadian Netlife magazine and it was a featured "Entertainment" Site that year on Yahoo's Yahooligans web guide for kids.

That original site (which is archived at http://library.thinkquest.org/4626/ ) was described this way:

This site was designed to allow students and teachers to research and develop an interest in word origins - specifically, the origins of names. For example, what some common first names mean and where they came from. Some are fun origins (like sneaker company names), some historical (like the gods & goddesses used to name our days and months) There were MANY categories we did not have time to fully research or create pages for... we hope to add more after the judging. Teachers might use it for history, teaching mythology, etymology of words... students might develop an interest in origins just by browsing areas like our pages on famous people who changed their names.

The first incarnation of the site had sections on the stories behind:
  • People's First Names
  • Last Names
  • Famous Name Changers
  • Rock Bands
  • Days of the Week
  • Sexiest Names
  • Sports Words
  • Pet Names
  • Months of the Year
  • Beanie Baby Names )after all it was 1998 & the site owner was 11)
  • Product Names
  • U.S. State Names
  • Millennium Names
  • Baby Names
  • Names in the News
By far, the most popular page was the one about the names of rock bands. It generated the most hits and the most comments and email.

Drew and I maintained the site for several months until it was "locked" from updating by the Thinkquest group.

In 2000, I mirrored the site at another location and redesigned it. I eliminated some categories (such as the Beanie Babies) and focused on the most popular topics (such as bands).

This year I decided to move some of the content over to a blog format to encourage more frequent updating and the opportunity for reader comment interaction.

As the months progress, I will reintroduce some of the other areas of name etymology.

William Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet about names, and that was what inspired the title of the original site

JULIET: What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. (Romeo and Juliet, Act II scene ii)

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