When US Census is collected, the data paints a certain picture of the country — we learn about age ranges, population sizes and common professions. Luke Dubois, an artist, composer and professor of digital media, wanted to track Americans in a different way.
Dubois, who creates interpretive representations of data, decided in 2010 to map the United States based on the words used in online dating profiles.
Around Dupont Circle and Logan Circle, the city’s map features lots of international words — 'Paraguay,' 'Estonia,' 'Kashmiri' — as well as others one might expect to find in the nation’s capital, such as The area around Boston uses the word ‘people’ in dating profiles more than any other city, though close behind are ‘drinks,’ ‘laugh,’ and unsurprisingly, ‘Sox.’ Dubois says his motivation in creating the project was to create a map of how people around the country think and talk about their own identities.
“I was looking for a body of data that could get at ordinary Americans describing themselves,” he says.
Manhattan's East Village (left) has words like 'taxi,' 'photography,' and 'brunch,' while across the river, Williamsburg, Brooklyn fits commonly held stereotypes about the area with words like ‘hipsters,’ ‘urbane,’ and ‘DJ.’ “I live between unconditional and midsummer,” Dubois says of his West Side neighborhood.
“If you just did the most common words, everything would be ‘love,’ and in Los Angeles it would be ‘sex,’” he tells Business Insider.
LA’s words include 'lingerie,' 'booty,' 'spanking,' and, of course, ‘screenwriter.’ “I don’t know how anyone gets a date in Washington, DC because they’re the most boring words in the world,” Dubois jokes.
The word New York City used more than any other was, fittingly, ‘now.’ But Du Bois broke down the five boroughs in much more detail to examine the language used in different neighborhoods.
He took a map of the United States and created an algorithm that replaced every city’s official name with the word that was used more often in profiles there than it was anywhere else.
Take a look at what the dating profiles in Dubois' project, called Dubois says he chose to highlight the word used more in a certain area than anywhere else because otherwise the map would look too homogeneous.