Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ethno-telephony

John Shelton Reed, the dean of Southern sociologists, has done many studies mapping the cultural South. One of the ingenious investigations that he and his students undertook involved looking at phonebooks from all over the South and its edges, to calculate ratios of business names. The central comparison they made was of businesses with “Dixie” in the name versus those with “American” in the name. They also did comparison studies with those terms and “Southern.” Mapping these ratios from all over did clearly identify a core of Dixie, a broader South, and the border regions, such as central Kentucky, where the South blends into the North.

One of Reed’s former students, Kenneth Myers, has computerized the idea behind this research, and coupled it with a massive database. The result is a tool for what he calls “ethno-telephony,” www.mapanything.net. The demo version is just a fun parlor game, while the full-scale service is a wonderful research tool for commerce and politics as well as more academic questions.

Go ahead and try it. I suggest starting with the “red vs. blue” option, inserting the terms “Yankee vs. Dixie.”

4 comments:

Paul Jolly said...

People interested in the sociology of the South, would do well to check out Reed's book, My Tears Spoiled My Aim it's good reading.

Anonymous said...

Broken link

Anonymous said...

Try this link:

http://www.mapanything.net

For some reason, Beau's link redirects incorrectly. By the by, I recommend viewing this link in Internet Explorer and not Firefox, as mine would not display the maps properly in Firefox.

Gruntled said...

Shoot, I thought I had fixed the link. My regular computer is down, and the link function is off. Thanks, Anon.

By the way, John Reed tells me that Ken Myers is not a former student, but a fan.