Looking at data-driven proxies for cultural change in the American Spirit Index

We want to measure things that act as a proxy for cultural change related to larger neighborhood change.

While open and official data sources are essential to understanding the dynamics of urban places, informal data sources are a potentially powerful way to understand shifts in culture and other indicators of change. The "American Spirit Index" represents one small but delightful test that is a part of a larger Supernormal exploration of these alternative datasets.

In this test, we used American Spirit's list of resellers and a list of Boston business locations to estimate the market penetration of American Spirit cigarettes, a brand with connotations of hipsters and artists. In the Boston metropolitan area, neighborhoods such as East Boston, Allston, and parts of Somerville and Dorchester rank highest on the American Spirit Index.

Elizabeth Christoforetti and Will Cohen

Boston American Spirit