February 03, 2010

Informal versus OFFICIAL Fun & Vacation

In some of our previous explorations of user-generated representations of place, we looked at the "funnest" places in North America. Although Toronto was by far the "funnest", when normalized by population, Cape Cod Bay looked like the best place to go for a good time (because, you know, nobody actually lives in the bay). In order to get a better grasp on where the fun is and from whence it comes, we compared our previous data on user-generated Google Maps placemarks mentioning the word "fun" with listings in the Google Maps directory that mentioned "fun". In short, how do informal notions of fun (user-generated) compare to OFFICIAL fun (directory listings).

Locations of Informal (user-generated) and Official (directory listing) Fun

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Toronto again appears prominent because of the prevalence of informal, as opposed to official, "fun". Toronto is largely an anomaly among urban areas in North America as most cities are decidedly tilted towards fun of the official type variety. Clearly we need to do some fieldwork in Toronto!

Likewise a considerable area in the rural western U.S. also displays a favoritism towards user-generated/informal fun. Upon further examination, many of the areas displayed in orange above correlate to the locations of US National Parks and National Forests. Because there would be few, if any, directory listings in these protected areas (as opposed to urban areas, which would have a much larger directory), user-generated placemarks are more prevalent than those generated automatically using sources like the Yellow Pages.

Also of interest is the high correlation in the differences between user-generated and directory content for "fun" and the differences between user-generated and directory content for "vacation" (see below). Here again wide swaths of the western US have more user-generated vacation reference than directory content, despite the general trend across the U.S. and Canada being the opposite. One site that shows up prominently as a cluster for user generated fun and vacation is Wall, South Dakota, home to the famous Wall Drug. Many a weary traveler driving across the country on I-90 have sought a few hours of refugee/distraction here. And apparently many have chosen to document it as well.

Locations of Informal (user-generated) and Official (directory listing) Vacation

So even if only in the relative prevalence of user-generated representations of places that are both fun and good for vacationing (don't they go so well together?), rural areas have found their place in the American cyberscape.


  1. WOW... It's simple site I like it...^^

  2. I love this. My mother-in-law is from Cape Cod and she used to drink with the members of Aerosmith. That sounds like a good time to me!


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