Many other blogs have mentioned the article in yesterday’s New York Times that explores research by Elizabeth Currid, an assistant professor in the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and Sarah Williams, the director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, presented at the AAG meeting last week in Las Vegas. I give the Times writer Melena Ryzik credit because I tried to decipher the paper (pdf) and didn’t get far. The toughest part for me was trying to understand how they found and felt confident the data they used as a proxy for their explorations.
The unfortunate part, if there is one of the New York Times covering geographic research, is finding the meaning of the research. In Paul Simkins (one of my profs at Penn State) definition of geography (What is where? Why? So what?) the “So what?” still eludes me.