Mapping Buzz, Calling B.S.


And you thought Cool Hunting had an exclusive on trendspotting and buzz geographics… Yesterday the New York Times ran a story (and some kinda nifty, albeit surprising, graphics) about Elizabeth Currid and her academic paper, which found that the epicenters of “buzz” for music, art, fashion, and other cultural entities, weren’t out in Brooklyn or NYC’s Lower East Side; nor could you find them in LA’s hip Silverlake district. Nope, they’re right where the Mad Men have been telling you they are the whole time. And that’s why we predict a hipster riot.

Let’s stoke it, shall we? OK so first off, the lede. NYT, you’re just asking for it with this one: “Apologies to residents of the Lower East Side; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and other hipster-centric neighborhoods. You are not as cool as you think.” (HA! Yeah we are. Duh. You just don’t get it, you old gray hag. And that’s the whole point. )

Secondly, this data was culled from Getty Images. (More pictures from the same ‘hood means more buzz.) Jokes and misplaced hipster aggression aside, when was the last time you saw a Getty photographer at anything besides a movie/theatre premiere or fashion show? Igor, Nicky D, Mr. Snake, sure. But a Getty photog? Yeah, we don’t think so.

Naturally then, the very center of the art, theatre, film, music, and television worlds in NYC is pretty much Times Square. Which any artistic person will tell you is not where buzz is born. It may very well be where it ends up, once it’s brought to the general public and deemed worthy, but we’ll guarantee that the Broadway play that’s opening (where all those photogs are snapping away) started and gained buzzworthy momentum far, far from Times Square.

Currid acknowleges that the data is already a bit outdated: “If we took a snapshot two years from now, the Lower East Side would become a much larger place in how we understand New York,” but the entire study seems to completely ignore the artistic underground, where we always thought buzz was, you know, produced.

And so, at the risk of sounding too cool for school, we’re calling B.S. on “The Geography of Buzz.” Agree? Disagree? Post your rants in the comments.