Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's a Living


A report from a few years back describes a joint University of Hertfordshire and British Council study that measured the average rate of speed for pedestrians in 32 cities around the world.

Here are the Top 10 results of this Pedestrian Olympiad, which measured how long on average it took people to cover 60 feet:
(1) Singapore; 10.55s
(2) Copenhagen (Denmark); 10.82s
(3) Madrid (Spain); 10.89s
(4) Guangzhou (China): 10.94s
(5) Dublin (Ireland); 11.03s
(6) Curitiba (Brazil); 11.13s
(7) Berlin (Germany); 11.16s
(8) New York (USA); 12.00s
(9) Utrecht (Holland); 12.04s
(10) Vienna (Austria); 12.06s

Who would have thought that Dubliners would outpace New Yorkers? The Middle East tended to have the slowest pace of life.

The line of the article that got a chuckle from me was, "Researchers who secretly studied pedestrians in 32 cities..." (italics mine).

How would you like that job: get paid to travel the world to sit around and discreetly use a stop-watch to facilitate people-watching?

I'm reminded of research I did in college for a linguistic neologist. One of my tasks was cataloging thousands of hand-written 3x5 index cards with notes on them like "From the New York Times" and "Overheard in a bar." It turns out that there were quite a few of the latter; apparently eaves-dropping on bar-room banter is standard fare for the compilers of dictionaries. Who knew?

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