Who Are We Talking To?

Via Andrew Sullivan, Alex Goldmark directs us to the the MIT Senseable City Lab’s Connected States of America mapping project, which sports an interactive map showing who we talk and text to. The map wouldn’t show Orange County for some reason, so I tried Los Angeles instead. Two things immediately jumped out at me:

  • Connection volume seems to be a pretty simple combination of geography (we know more people near us) and population density (we know more people in big cities because big cities just have more people).
  • The maps are surprisingly similar for both call and text volume. Should I have expected them to be different? Maybe not, but I did.

Of course, there are also a few weirdnesses. Why so many calls and texts to Codington County, South Dakota, and Tulsa, Oklahoma? Big call centers? What about Fayette, Tennessee?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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