This clip lasts only a minute. But it condenses 96 hours of activity for two of the busiest cities in the world, New York and Tokyo.
It’s a map plotted by Foursquare. Each dot represents a single check-in. Each line represents sequential check-ins. So what you see in New York is a quasi-organized beehive of activity downtown, as people bounce from location to location along the grid. And this hub emits a laser light show, as people commute in and out through just a few major pipelines.
Paying attention to color shifts, you’ll note some other interesting trends. Most people do arrive in the city each morning for work or school. They eat lunch and take care of errands in the afternoon. And by 8 p.m., the food and arts are at their peak, flooding the city in a mix of green and blue.
The trends are a bit tougher to see in Tokyo, where it seems that more transportation systems bring in commuters to smaller hubs. But you will note something interesting—around noon, Tokyo’s commuter lines shift to green (or what I swear is a greener green than the teal transit of the morning). This color even carries through to the evening. Recalling my own time in Tokyo vs. New York, I remember how packed the food options at subway stations would be. It may be impolite to eat on Tokyo streets, but commuters seem to be grabbing a bite to eat along the way home.
And not to stereotype, but 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in Tokyo ignites with all the geometric intensity of Gundam anime. Oh, c’mon, don’t leave me hanging here as the sole xenophobe in the room. Tell me you see it, too.