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On Monday, Yelp put out a new tool called Wordmap that lets you map the prevalence of certain terms among 14 of the “Yelpiest” cities around the world (although mostly in the United States). Yelp has provided a handful of words that remain the same across cities, along with certain city-specific words (e.g., “hoagie” in Philadelphia, “parking” in Los Angeles and “dim sum” in San Francisco). You click on a word, choose a city and — voila! — you see a heatmap of where it’s used most frequently in reviews.
Wordmap would be a lot more useful if you could actually search for your own terms, and also if you could overlay two words and see how they align (e.g., “hipster” and “pbr”). However, like Twitter’s new topography of tweets tool, it’s really just an exercise in visualization that’s useful if you’re looking for the types of high-level insights it’s offering up.
That being said, Wordmap is still fun to play around with. And if you’re really into being part of, or avoiding, a certain crowd it might actually be useful. The same if you’re visiting a city and looking for a pocket of restaurants serving pasta or perhaps bacon.
Given what’s available in Wordmap, I decided to run a not-so-scientific study to determine how closely hipsters actually align with Pabst Blue Ribbon — the irony-drenched swill that has become a symbol of the hipster crowd — and where hipsters and frat boys are likely to cross paths. (For anyone offended by these classifications, I offer the following defenses: (a) blame Yelp and (b) I would have included my own group, “square” (or maybe “codger”), but Wordmap doesn’t include it.)
I’m highlighting three cities in California that I know reasonably well, as well as Chicago, but the results seem pretty consistent across cities: hipsters and PBR really do go hand in hand, and hipsters and frat boys don’t often frequent the same places. Where they do, PBR is often a tie that binds.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr user e skene.