Livehoods uses social media check-ins, mainly from Foursquare, to show the neighborhoods of a city as they are actually lived.

It’s a good idea, and decent execution, but once I scratched the surface, it just didn’t jive with my lived experience.

When I’m in Brooklyn, I happen to land at the intersection of three of their hoods. It’s true, these are three different neighborhoods culturally, and a preponderance of people probably see the lines on the Livehoods map as a psychological boundary. Still, my life takes me into all of them – I crash in one and work just over the line in the other, walking back and forth, dropping in to stores along the way. I’m betting that most people do something similar – either with two neighboring neighborhoods or on two (or more) ends of a subway line.

From another angle, there are pieces of a single hood that are very relevant to me, and other places, physically proximate, that might as well be on another planet. Coffee shop next door? relevant. Child and Family services next door? Not so much. But a coffee shop one hood over? Also relevant.

There are likely many neighborhoods coexisting in the same space, layered on top of each other. Some of those neighborhoods will overlap strongly, and some won’t overlap at all. Some neighborhoods may not even be physically contiguous – the neighborhood of fine-art goers, for example, or the neighborhood of frequent business travelers. Is the neighborhood of a car owner similar to the neighborhood of a bike-rider? How similar?

What this needs is a demographic or psycho-graphic axis of some-sort, or even cooler – demographic and psycho-graphic derived entirely from the check-in data itself.

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