Map – Forgettable States of America

Several years ago, my roommate randomly asked me “What do you think the most forgettable state is?”. I decided to turn that question into a map.

The Map

View Full Size

The Data

The only real challenge with creating this map was to find out which state people forget the most. I don’t really have the time or resources to conduct a survey myself, but luckily there are quiz websites online that already do that for me, like Sporcle.

Sporcle calls itself “The Worlds Largest Trivia Quiz Website”. It has several different quizzes that ask the user to enter all 50 states from memory against a timer. After taking the quiz, the user can view statistics so they can compare how they did against other users. I took the statistics from 5 of these quizzes and combined them to figure out which states are most frequently forgotten.

You can take a quiz to see how well you do here.

Some of the results from this analysis were expected. The coasts were well remembered and I expected California, Texas, and New York to be high on the list. I was pretty surprised by how well N and S Dakota scored though. I guess people remember their names.
Or maybe there are a lot of Sporcle users from the Dakotas? Here’s a tabular look at the results, with lower numbers being more memorable:

1 California 26 Kansas
2 New York 27 Colorado
3 Texas 28 Oregon
4 Florida 29 Idaho
5 Alaska 30 New Hampshire
6 North Carolina 31 Pennsylvania
7 Hawaii 32 Delaware
8 North Dakota 33 Tennessee
9 South Carolina 34 Kentucky
10 South Dakota 35 Mississippi
11 Washington 36 Louisiana
12 Maine 37 Massachusetts
13 Alabama 38 Connecticut
14 Virginia 39 Montana
15 Georgia 40 Maryland
16 New Mexico 41 Utah
17 Arizona 42 Vermont
18 Ohio 43 Indiana
19 Rhode Island 44 Wyoming
20 New Jersey 45 Iowa
21 Arkansas 46 Wisconsin
22 Illinois 47 Nebraska
23 Nevada 48 Oklahoma
24 West Virginia 49 Minnesota
25 Michigan 50 Missouri

All of the geographic data is from Natural Earth.

The Method

This map was created using QGIS and GIMP. The first task was to create two maps in QGIS – a basemap of the US and a map to be used as a mask in GIMP. For the mask map, I joined the Sporcle data to the states shapefile by Name and symbolized the forgettability on a greyscale gradient with white for the minimum value and black for the maximum value.

I imported both maps into GIMP and used the mask map to set the transparency of each state based on how they scored in forgettability. Finally I added a seamless cloud texture behind the map to create the final product.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *