January 24, 2010

Where do people Make it Rain'?

I make it rain. I make it rain on them.
-Fat Joe featuring Lil' Wayne, "Make it Rain"

No surprises here (except for FloatingSheep's mastery of slang). The folks in Las Vegas make it rain. No, not precipitation. The kind defined by the Urban Dictionary as "When you're in da club with a stack, and you throw the money up in the air at the strippers. The effect is that it seems to be raining money." Indeed.

It shouldn't startle anyone that the largest city in the only US state where prostitution is legal also has the most user-generated references to strip clubs. Contrasting its usual ranking in the urban hierarchy of user-generated geographic information (i.e., somewhere in the middle), Las Vegas is undoubtedly considered by the collective intelligence of the Internet as the place to go to see the clothes come off.

But it is also clear that this phenomenon is national with clusters of strip club reference throughout the U.S. with Florida, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, New York-New Jersey (Bada Bing!) and Portland standing out in particular. Does Las Vegas retain its penchant for seedy entertainment when the raw number of hits are normalized by both the average number of mentions of 'strip clubs' in user-generated placemarks and the relative specialization at each point (values divided by the number of mentions of "1")?

Even when the raw values of user-generated placemarks are normalized by these two measures (with values showing less-than-average specialization excluded), Las Vegas remains the national hotbed for strip clubs by a considerable margin. But what explains the relative prevalence of strip clubs in the area around Aiken, SC? Or most of Connecticut, for that matter?

Clearly further research is needed but that's NOT what we mean. We're more than content to let it remain one of life's little mysteries for now.


  1. Maybe this was already mentioned and I just missed it, but how do you define specialization in this case?

  2. Thanks for the comment. When we speak of specialization in these maps, it usually means one of two things. Either specialization in the sense of 1) a particular search term having a disproportionately large share of the total placemarks at a point (indexed by values of "1" or "0" at each point), or 2) a particular point having a disproportionately large share of the placemarks for a particular search term (indexed by average values across space). In this case, however, we're talking about both simultaneously!