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Understanding Large Temporal Networks and Spatial Networks: Exploration, Pattern Searching, Visualization and Network Evolution by Natasa Kejzar, Anuska Ferligoj, Vladimir Batagelj, Patrick Doreian

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9Mapping Spatial Diversity in the United States of America

We turn our attention to mapping spatial distributions for large diverse social systems. We focus on the continental United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) as an example having 3111 units (counties1) that differ greatly and are located in a vast ecologically diverse geographical space. The social diversity across these units can be viewed as being driven by the presence of different peoples, living in them over long periods of time and carving out places to live in different ecosystems. These areas also have quite different cultures, life styles and preferences contained within them. Attempting to understand the spatial distribution of the social, economic, political, and physical features of such a large system is a daunting task.

One way of doing this is to put a primary emphasis on contiguous areas and study these directly linked areas. Examples of this approach include 1) the work of the US Census Bureau with its broad regions, 2) a provocative book, The Nine Nations of America, by Garreau (1981), and 3) American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, an in-depth historical examination of the formation of the United States and its change over time by Woodard (2011). A second approach to understanding the spatial distribution of America's diversity is to focus on carefully selected indicators, summarize them, and describe areal units in terms of these summaries. Chinni and ...

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