It is not down in any map
August 5, 2022 9:10 AM   Subscribe

Notable people shows an interactive globe of most notable person born in locations around the world (for some values of "notable"). posted by swift (43 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Dunno if they are behind the times or being consciously and edgily anti-woke, but the big name for Halifax, Nova Scotia is "Ellen Page."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:15 AM on August 5

The data itself is drawn from Wikidata, so if there's a problem with Elliot Page's biographical info, it'll be there, and not the fault of the person who made this map.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:23 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Okay. Although the behind-the-times would explain the "Alive: probably yes" on many entries. Of course, the rationale for deciding on the living/dead status is unclear; if you look at northeastern Kansas, of course Amelia Earhart is there and listed as "Alive: nope." I'm just saying: she may have turned 125 two weeks ago and added yet another accomplishment to her CV. We just don't know, dude.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:24 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]

This is hilarious: it reveals its bias in whose names appear in Wikipedia. Like, there are tons of Olde Times baseball players listed, because someone force-fed them to Wiki at some point.

In Rhode Island, the baseballers Nap Lajoie, Bruce Caldwell, and Clem Labine appear -- but Viola Davis does not!

Having only one person for each area seems like maybe not the perfect choice. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:34 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]

In the darkest wilds of the Dorset countryside (otherwise home to any number of classic English writers like Thomas Hardy), lies my home town, famous for...

Ray Puckett, who was an Olympic distance runner in the 60s. For New Zealand. Huh.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 9:38 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]

If you create a data visualization with bad data, no matter how clever, you end up with a bad visualization.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:39 AM on August 5 [16 favorites]

Yeah, I mentally and emotionally sagged when I spun the globe and the first damn name in the US that I saw was Shitgibbon; but I'm heartened that Lucia Berlin is up there in Juneau.
posted by scratch at 9:40 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]

John Lennon gets to dominate Liverpool while Paul McCartney is still not on screen when Jeremiah Markland makes an appearance (an C18th classical scholar if you are wondering). So not sure how that works.

Fascinating otherwise. Rex Harrison was from Huyton! Huyton!

There was a Nobel prize for Physics winner from just down the road from my dad! In Widnes!

Tim Curry is from Warrington! Gosh.

I fear at some point I will look at the wider world away from Merseyside and be lost for days.

Does everyone start with their childhood town or where they live now?
posted by biffa at 9:43 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]

Weird inconsistencies like Alex Lounsbury and Franz Kraemer said to be born in Antarctica, the former before the first recorded woman is known to have been on that continent, and if you click the wikidata link it says Brian Eno born was born in Venezuela, while Wikipedia and the map show Suffolk.

Meanwhile, Emilio Palma, the only named person known to be the first born on an entire continent (Antarctica) and certainly the most notable person of the handful actually born there, doesn't rate a dot.

On the other hand, very cool way of thinking about space and time and who gets to be notable and also how and where these vast archives are kept. It seems there is a 16 digit "ISNI" number used to identify people in a non-ambiguous manner, sort of like an ISBN. Does everyone get one of these at birth? Should everyone? I mean, personally I don't want a global ID nor to be an International Standard, despite my name being unusual enough that in effect I may already have one.
posted by Rumple at 9:53 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Some of the data appear to be a little off: there are three names that I can see listed as being born in Antarctica, which is about three more than I would have expected. Closer examination reveals they were born in (modern) Ireland, Argentina, and Canada respectively.

ETA: I had never heard of Emilio Palma - thanks. Seems to me there have been at least two births in Vatican City in the last century as well.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:56 AM on August 5

Having only one person for each area seems like maybe not the perfect choice.

The other way to do it would be to include everyone from the top X of the "Notability rankings". The problem would be that big places would have way too many names so you would have to figure out how to format that, and most small towns would have nothing. It would be cool if there was a slider to adjust the X parameter. Feature request!
posted by bitslayer at 9:59 AM on August 5

Does everyone start with their childhood town

If you are me, and you do this, and you further think Martin Short is about 9% as talented as Eugene Levy, you will be disappoint by who gets the headline and who goes unmentioned.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:00 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Does everyone start with their childhood town or where they live now?

Yes! I was born in Kelly Clarkson but now I live all the way in Mel Gibson.
posted by swift at 10:01 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]

There's a large amount of YouTubers and other "influencers" on this map. People I never heard of are showing up here right next to like you know, Harry Truman. It seems to broadly get things right and the notability index is kind of right.

You'll get all kinds of oddities like Tom Cruise, who has to be one of the most recognizable international stars alive, ranked in the 300s with David Lynch. And Eminem ranked at 30! The notability algorithm needs to be tweaked, it looks like it heavily favors figures that have a lot of language subpages, which in turn favors Western Europe.

Like Jean-Jacques Rousseau is below 100 and I can guarantee you more people will know of Tom Cruise before him.

I read the 5 criteria of what makes a person notable and it makes sense that big political figures (Obama, Trump, Bush, Hitler, Churchill) are going to be widely cited, studied and translated. It also obviously leans very Internety, which is why no-name influencers seemingly made the list. There's probably got to be a better way of doing this but if you wanted to put people in broad buckets of notability this does an okay job.
posted by geoff. at 10:05 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

I'm from Tony Hawk land.

But really there was no hospital in that small town so would my wiki birthplace be where I lived or the hospital 15 miles away in another town where I was technically born? I assume the former but after a certain distance (e.g. next state over) then it would be the latter.
posted by vacapinta at 10:08 AM on August 5

apparently Mel Gibson was born in upstate New York? ok...
posted by supermedusa at 10:14 AM on August 5

how the hell do you zoom in???
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:24 AM on August 5

It places Stephen Hawking at 40 and Isaac Newton at 41 which may reflect a recency bias I suppose.
posted by Rumple at 10:35 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

apparently Mel Gibson was born in upstate New York?

Yes, surprisingly, this is correct. This is one of those "born in place A but moved to place B when they were just a kid so they're effectively from place B" situations. He was born in Peekskill, New York, but his parents were from Australia and so when his dad won a workplace-injury lawsuit he moved the whole family back there. Mel was like twelve at the time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:47 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Also: I have since figured out how to zoom in. Which is how I am now able to call bullshit because they say nothing whatsoever on this map about the Notorious B.I.G. being from my corner of Brooklyn (a fact which the neighborhood has been dining out on for like 20 years now).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:52 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]

The number of women on this map is absolutely dismal, obviously, because this is wikidata.
posted by MiraK at 10:53 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]

He was born in Peekskill, New York

Also from Peekskill: Paul Reubens, and the original Yellow Brick Road.
posted by swift at 11:00 AM on August 5

LOL Calgary represented by Ted Cruz.
posted by Mitheral at 11:08 AM on August 5 [6 favorites]

Born in Joan Crawford, currently residing in Bryan Adams.
posted by Kitteh at 11:16 AM on August 5

Born in Salvador Allende, natch.

The weird thing is it shows 'Sasha Grey' in southern Santiago, but if you click it says she was born somewhere called 'North Highlands' in California.
posted by signal at 11:33 AM on August 5

maybe i'm off right now but i do find this surprisingly sort of quasi-offensive somehow. not like, morally, but it's just really off-putting to me. maybe it's cuz most everyone near me were notable for what an absolute shit person they are? also the flippancy of "alive: nope" vs what could have been the neutral "alive: no" rubs me the wrong way too. idk i've had a bad week so it's probably just me.

the creator on twitter said "Feels like some people are expecting me to go and fix all data on Wikipedia now, which is kinda odd." which yeah, you're just the messenger, the bad data is not your responsibility, but no one asked you to highlight this, you chose to do it.

i love you all regardless
posted by glonous keming at 11:46 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]

how the hell do you zoom in???

Plus (+) / Minus (-) keys work for zoom in/out
posted by rozcakj at 11:46 AM on August 5

the creator on twitter said "Feels like some people are expecting me to go and fix all data on Wikipedia now, which is kinda odd."

Well....they can, technically, but I think maybe selecting a more accurate data set would be the easier option.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:52 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]

Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll represents the town I grew up in, but appears only to be notable for obsolete society reasons.

But to go along with the crowd: Born in Robbie Coltrane, currently residing in Mike Myers. Makes me sound like a celebrity tapeworm.
posted by scruss at 1:07 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Boy, I'm from bleak and live in bleak. Got an Army General from WWII and some middling footballer. I find myself in places people move to.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 1:16 PM on August 5

Born in Dean Butler. Currently splitting time between Peter Kent (a person so extremely notable that he doesn't even have an English language wikipedia page, though he does have one in several other languages, mostly because he doubled Schwarzenegger in a lot of movies) and Margaret Atwood.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:22 PM on August 5

The weird thing is it shows 'Sasha Grey' in southern Santiago, but if you click it says she was born somewhere called 'North Highlands' in California.

If you look in the link, Janis Joplin was born in both Beaumont AND Port Arthur. She never struck me as the born again type.

born in a football player, reside in a news anchor.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 1:28 PM on August 5

I like how Mary Hagedorn was apparently born in the middle of the water in Long Island Sound, because that's what Wikipedia says.
posted by reptile at 1:45 PM on August 5

Chris Pratt is so elevated on the map for MN you have to scroll HARD to bear down to the point of seeing Bob Dylan. This is truly criminal. You gotta push it a little to get Prince to show up as well.
posted by Ber at 2:29 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]

My lot mostly seem to be male footballers. How dull is that. They may be the most notable people around but they are not very notable at all.
posted by paduasoy at 3:53 PM on August 5

My little bit of middle England is absolutely packed with famous cricketers from the 1890s to the present day. Also, oddly, a former Governor of Michigan.
posted by pipeski at 4:17 PM on August 5

Huh. Born in Beyonce, living in Paula Abdul. Whodathunk
posted by revmitcz at 4:37 PM on August 5

It says I live in the drummer from Guns N Roses which Wikipedia does list as his birthplace in the little info box on the right. But then in the actual bio section on him it says he was born 60 miles south. So Wikipedia shows two places of birth.I guess Wikipedia isn't the most accurate for this sort of thing.
posted by downtohisturtles at 5:21 PM on August 5

> I find myself in places people move to

I'm in one of those places, but all we have is Jimi Hendrix (yay!) and a lot of athletes I haven't heard of.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:40 PM on August 5

I was excited to see that a famous writer was born in the building next to me. But about 30 seconds of non-Wikipedia search revealed that it was in fact nowhere near here.
posted by Umami Dearest at 6:21 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]

I was surprised to see George Washington near Pittsburgh. But aha! According to Wikidata, he was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, not Westmoreland County PA. Not sure if that's an error in Wikidata or in the interpretation of the feed.
posted by booth at 7:30 AM on August 6

The second link to the Nature paper is worth a read. This is remarkably good work IMHO, a thoughtful and well presented selection of a certain kind of social metric from data scraping. Yes, the data source is flawed, but I defy you to find a better global data source. I think its English language and American bias is its greatest limitation. Also begs a question about the scope of "notable"; this reflects global media culture when I'd be more interested in local heroes, perhaps with a more historical bent.

My most glaring example is the 1-2 punch of "Mohammed" and "Osama bin Laden" on the Arabian Peninsula. I don't know how you'd even evaluate the relative "notability" of those two. Or bin Laden against the thousands of other scholars and artists and political leaders who distinguished themselves through centuries of Islamic cultural ascendancy.
posted by Nelson at 8:35 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]

I was satisfied with my examination of this map.
posted by jscalzi at 9:05 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]

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