Common Census maps

The Common Census maps of self-identified city-region membership seem to be getting major play, as I've heard about them from several unrelated sources in the past few days.

Scott gets double points for invoking Jane Jacobs' view of city-regions; he's also got fun thoughts for me to respond to -

"The size of a city doesn’t seem to correlate to the size of its influence region, though most of the large areas (which are mostly rural and in the west) seem to have relatively small cities at their center"

Dude, you've driven through Montana! To make a gross generalization, the size of cities is fairly well correlated with their proximity to other cities - there's a blinding difference in population density between the small-city-large-region parts of the west and the big-city-small-region coastal areas; the BAMA cities are all so close together that, even though they're all big, their regions quickly butt up against other cities, while mountain state cities tend to be the only game in town.

"DC sort of wraps around Richmond, VA"

This is what I find most interesting about the map; places where local identification exists, but is weak enough that people to one side of this pocket identify with a significantly bigger city on the other side. It's a fun gravitational model of city-identification. If you're going to go far enough to hit the smaller city, you may as well go so far as to hit the major city beyond.

I'd like to see something where you can rank several cities. "List all of the cities that you feel influence your location." I'd probably list Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Chicago for that one.

"they really should merge 'twin cities' and 'Minneapolis' or at least call 'twin cities' 'St. Paul.'"

I think they should list all three options. Interesting to see how close in to the Twin Cities you have to be to identify with one or the other - you'd probably get a small pocket around each one with the individual city, donutted by Twin Cities identification. I think there's probably some bias introduced in what options are provided to you; somebody might look at the list and say, "Hmmm...Minneapolis? Or Twin Cities? Minneapolis? Or Twin Cities?" and, unless they lived in St. Paul proper, wouldn't bother to think of it on equal footing with the other two. I'd like to see more of a name-comparison model, where you enter a city name, and, if it can't understand you, it gives "did you mean" options to attempt to clarify.