What's in a Name?

"Detroit is the Paris of the Widwest", "Oakland is the Newark of the West Coast", "Chattanooga is the Cleveland of the Southeast" - a new website uses a navigable map of the world to catalog the many "X is the Y of Z" analogies found on Twitter.

Emily Badger profiles Chris Reade's inventive website - metropho.rs - that captures the (mostly odd, but occasionally inightful) ways in which people attempt to communicate the character of one place by referencing another with "that ubiquitous formula, 'X is the Y of Z.'"

"Reade built the site using a Yahoo! tool called Placemaker, which is able to identify and geographically index place names in a block of text. He uses it to troll Twitter for metaphors in a format like 'Paris is the… of' or 'is the Paris of…' Once Paris is compared to Detroit, Detroit gets sucked into the search, too. In that way, the tool is constantly expanding and now searches for about 1,200 place names all over the world."

"As a sociological exercise, there's something to be said for the way Reade's whimsical site reflects how we think about the meaning of place," observes Badger. "'Compton' quickly becomes the shortest way to say that somewhere is dangerous, or 'Portland' that it’s got bikes and vegetarians and wheat-grass bars. The most frequently cited places essentially have the strongest identities. And that makes them more difficult to analogize themselves."

Full Story: 'Oakland Is the Newark of the West Coast'

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
City Plate table setting

New Arrival! City Plates

City downtown cores printed on gorgeous decorative collectible porcelain plates.
$50.00
Wood necklace with city map

City Necklaces

These sweet pendants are engraved on a cedar charm with a mini map of selected cities. The perfect gift for friends and family or yourself!
$28.00