The aim of the study, called “The Geography of Buzz,” said Elizabeth Currid, one of its authors, was “to be able to quantify and understand, visually and spatially, how this creative cultural scene really worked.”
To find out, Ms. Currid, an assistant professor in the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and her co-author, Sarah Williams, the director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, mined thousands of photographs from Getty Images that chronicled flashy parties and smaller affairs on both coasts for a year, beginning in March 2006. It was not a culturally comprehensive data set, the researchers admit, but a wide-ranging one. And because the photos were for sale, they had to be of events that people found inherently interesting, “a good proxy for ‘buzz-worthy’ social contexts,” they write. You had to be there, but where exactly was there? And why was it there?
The answers were both obvious and not, a Möbius strip connecting infrastructure (Broadway shows need Broadway theaters, after all), media (photographers need to cover Broadway openings) and the bandwagon nature of popular culture. Buzz, as marketers eagerly attest, feeds on itself, even, apparently, at the building level. A related exhibition opens on Tuesday at Studio-X in the West Village, just south of Houston Street, an area not quite buzzy enough to rank.The study follows in the wake of urban theorists like Richard Florida (Ms. Currid calls him a mentor), who have emphasized the importance of the creative class to civic development.
Sería interesante encarar un proyecto similar en Buenos Aires. Nuestra ciudad tiene cada vez más centros productores y consumidores de cultura y valdría la pena mapearlos para entender mejor el fenómeno. Habría que usar indicadores diferentes a los de Nueva York (referencias en la prensa, fotos de paparazzis, etc) y buscar una activa participación de los vecinos y las instituciones de base, para que el resultado sea algo más que el rejunte de las agendas de programas culturosos que ya publican los diarios.