This is the most fascinating mapping project I’ve seen in a while, and I really like mapping projects. The American Communities Project starts from the premise that “changes in technology and economics are redefining the social, political and cultural fault lines that make the country what it is.” The take this assumption, add boatloads of demographic data, and come out with this excellent categorization of each county into 15 types. The types range from “Big Cities” to “African American South” to “College Towns” to “Military Posts”. It’s really quite fascinating.
I believe that state boundaries don’t do a good job at communicating the gradation of commonality across the country. I love projects that use real data to illustrate some of the more natural regions and boundaries. Some projects like this include Facebook’s study of NFL fandom, Dirk Brockmann’s map of dollar bill circulation (which could use some web mapping help), MIT Senseable Lab’s “Connected States of America” by phone and text networks, and NC State statistician Joshua Katz’s dialect maps (although that uses surveys, which I don’t find quite as sexy as the data the others use). I would love to see some sort of aggregation of all these projects.