A few months ago I wrote about (but can’t find in the archives…special TwShiloh bonus points if you can! In any case, here’s the sourceof that post.) some work done by researchers that looked at phone data in order to see if there were geographic patterns in who talked to who. They were trying to look beyond political and geographic boundaries and see if there ad hoc communities that exist outside or beyond those borders. It was pretty cool in that you could see what a United States structured around people’s communication patterns circa the early 21st century might look like.
Well, those researchers are back again, pouring through data and trying to uncover cultural and communication boundaries within the country. It’d be interesting to do this sort of work in other countries that are threatened with dissolution or civil war and see how splits correlate with initial community boundaries.
But, let’s not deny the opportunity for some whimsy:
One of the clearest regional differences in the U.S. can found by tracking the words people use to refer to soft drinks, which is in fact the map you saw at the top of this story. Pop or soda, or even Coke, these small linguistic differences are not as small as we might think. While “soda” commands the Northeast and West Coast (green) and “pop” is in between (black), “Coke” reigns in the south (turquoise). These small distinctions can often act as touchstones for larger cultural differences.
For example, New England is incontrovertibly a single region, connected by interaction, mobility, and culture. Similarly, certain states such as Texas and Kansas are their own distinctive regions.
On the other hand, New Jersey and California have a distinct bisection that divides them, though not always in the same way or place.
So…when the apocalypse happens and the US breaks apart into distinct countries, you’ll know where you’ll want to be. I recommend the light green.
It’d be interesting to compare these findings with the old ‘Nine Nations of North America‘ theory.