Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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The City

Growing up in Connecticut, “the city” was always New York. Of course, if you go somewhere else, though, “the city” changes. With that in mind I’ve always wanted to build something that found the footprint of different cities around the country. How far into New Jersey can you go until they start calling Philly “the city”? If you’re in the middle of the nowhere is the city the next town over with 2,000 people?

I still don’t know the answer and still very much want to build the tool/map out, but in the meantime CommonCensus is the closest thing I’ve seen to an answer. It draws a map based on responses to “On the level of North America as a whole, what major city do you feel has the most cultural and economic influence on your area overall?” I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s still pretty interesting. Notice, for instance, the influence of Salt Lake City or Denver (both surrounded by not so much) as opposed to New York or Philly (where cities are more clumped together). Good stuff.

February 20, 2009