Growing up in North-Central Pennsylvania, we always used ‘soda’ to refer to a soft drink. Whenever I met someone from Western PA, they’d say ‘pop’. As I met people from the Seattle area, I was surprised to find they also said ‘pop’. My theory was that the dividing line was somewhere across central PA …. and I now have statistics to prove that it’s within 100 miles of where I grew up.
Wired has a write up about CommonCensus.org and Pop vs Soda. CommonCensus is a very cool project to gather data on how people perceive their surroundings. These is great for defining neighborhoods. Official boundaries rarely correspond to the perceived boundaries, which is a big problem in local search (for example: find me all the reasonably-priced hotels in South Beach, but not the hotel that’s 5 blocks into a bad neighborhood).
Both of these are great geographical applications of the Wisdom of Crowds.