April 18, 2010

Yr City's a Sucker


Last week, the NYC media was abuzz about New York Magazine‘s recent report on our great city’s most livable neighborhoods, a “quantitative index of the 50 most satisfying places to live,” complete with an interactive neighborhood ranking feature. Statistician Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight.com  weighted and rated each neighborhood against a dozen criteria, from practical concerns like affordability, transit and schools to a full range of cultural factors (Silver explains in more detail on his own blog).

via Very Small Array

Semi-relevant humorous graphic via Very Small Array

Park Slope takes first, followed by the Lower East Side and (surprise?) Sunnyside, Queens. My own ‘hood, Fort Greene, is 18th, representing a purportedly objective improvement over my previous home in Williamsburg (20th), though adjacent neighborhoods such as Prospect Heights and Greenpoint (which apparently did not lose points for prevalent vinyl siding) place ninth and fifth, respectively. The fact that half of the top ten is within the two miles east of my current home is an obvious testament to the city’s density—a 30-minute walk (or 5-minute bike ride) in any direction takes me across up to five distinct neighborhoods—while the disparity in ranking suggests that even adjacent blocks may be worlds apart.


Conversely, I find that ethnographic data is perhaps more telling than the pseudo-scientific approach. While it’s hard to draw grand conclusions from a 5,000-person poll (conducted in conjunction with Silver’s number-crunching), I tend to think that these pithy gems constitute a more accurate snapshot of present-day New York than the algorithmic approach. (There are too many fun facts to list here; I recommend viewing it for yourself.)

In any case, the content and information design is well-executed, though I wish NYMag.com gave the option to view full articles as a single page (and, similarly, view all of the comments at once as well). Technical issues aside, I’m impressed with the depth and breadth of the content: as a conscientious urbanite, I am fascinated by both the social and cultural dynamics of city life and the concept of conurbation.

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January 17, 2010


» Autechre – Bike (7:58) – 9.2MB mp3 @ 160kbps

Mark Jenkins via Arrested Motion

Mark Jenkins via Arrested Motion

The mild weather in New York this weekend has been highly conducive to activities known as “getting out of the house,” especially with regard to my favored mode of transportation, biking. Since I returned to the NYC three weeks ago, I’ve taken to doing laps around Prospect Park for brief cardiovascular excursions, while my single-speed has taken me to various destinations around the boroughs—most recently to dim sum in Bay Ridge.

In retrospect, I regret not biking at all when I was in China. While the feasibility, practicality and efficiency of biking in Beijing were debatable—rentals were clunkers and I didn’t want to buy a bike for a two month stay—I grossly underestimated the ecstasy of cycling. At the most visceral level, I find it liberating: not only from the limits of bipedal locomotion, but also from traffic laws, which also become very fast and loose—to spite every other form of transportation—at cyclists’ own risk.

Apparently, free association also becomes very fast and loose at bloggers’ own risk:

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