Friday, February 27, 2009


Here's something I've been wondering about ever since talking to friends of mine in LA: what sort of picture would you get if you could go to all of the bars or clubs in a given city every single night and make note of what kind of crowd existed there?

It wouldn't actually be too hard to do. The data to capture is simple:

- Which bar
- What day
- Crowd rating 0-10
-- 10: I would stay here until closing time
-- 5: I could have a drink here, but finding somewhere else would also be OK
-- 0: I will either kill myself or everyone else in this place if I stay here for five more minutes

Then you could just graph it. Behold an example of a theoretical scatterplot, made with the precise and exact hand of years of expertise in statistical science:

The red, green, and blue might represent results for bars you might find anywhere in San Francisco but the Marina. The purple represents the projected results for basically any bar in the Marina.

You could then take this numerical data, average it per day ("here are the results for all the Mondays"), and transform it into a heatmap of the city for a given night, something like so:

Which would give you a decent idea as to where might be a good place to go, or avoid entirely.

There are some problems with this idea, though:

- In order to gather the data, you would have to crowdsource this junk, which means there would need to be agreement among the crowd on what constitutes a 10 bar vs a 0 bar. Chad and Trev (SIG EPSILON FOR LIFE, BRA!!) are going to have different ideas for what makes a good time than, say, me.
-- This could be circumvented by only letting friends of mine into the project, friends who share my taste in environments. The usefulness of the whole thing would be constrained, then, to people who are as awesome as me. I'm OK with this.
-- Although honestly, now that I think about it, your typical yeah-dude would still be able to use this data; he'd just need to flip it around and interpret the red as "sweet party, bro."

- It might get expensive. In order to gather data on a bar's crowd, you have to go inside, even if only for a minute or two. Lots of bars or clubs have cover charges.
-- You could get around this by robbing a bank.

These are the things I think about when I've got my brain to myself. I don't know what else to tell you.