A Study in New Pioneering: a Study in the Empirical Identification of New Frontiers

– Andrew Wasson

The Dairy River Center for New Pioneering is pleased to announce an exciting advancement in the science of New Pioneering. For the first time we have used empirical methods to identify geographic domains of the New Frontier. These findings are the culmination of years of research, discussion, debate, and turmoil.

Dairy River is in some ways propelled by the engine of “New Pioneering.” For years, we labored, burdened by lack of definition. In a moment of clarity and rare agreement the DRCFNP cleared away the cobwebs of ambiguity and set forth a working definition for “New Pioneer”: “an explorer of the built environment: its physical aspects, its infrastructure, and all the information that it generates or that is used therein.” “Vers Une Pioneer” Dairy River No. 6 (Feb. 28, 2009). The editors of Dairy River called a press conference in front of the Ardmore, Pennsylvania municipal building, flanked on one side by several AHL mascots and flanked on the other by the mayor of Punxatawny in top hat holding Phil triumphantly. Trumpets blared at the announcement. People who had not spoke in years shook hands solemnly. The future was bright.

But we did not attempt to identify locations of the New Frontier. Some prominent theorists hypothesized that such an endeavor would be futile. They argued: the New Frontier is everywhere! It even stretches beyond our physical environment and bleeds into “all the information that it generates or that is used therein.” So a definitive and exclusive list of locations would not be helpful or even possible.

Other equally wizened theorists disagreed. They argued that the geographic domains of New Frontier were distinct from the information we use to navigate through them, the conclusions we draw about their structure, and the history of their development. These distinguished theorists argued forcefully that this information, these conclusions, and this history, while not the New Frontier itself, hovered above it like a mist over the waters. Thus, the New Frontier itself could be identified. The question was just a question of definition and the availability of geographic data.

A vigorous debate between these two camps raged. Scientists were ostracized and then embraced. Papers were published and then retracted. Fact-finding junkets went missing for months at a time only to resurface trapped in some remote location, like the ball room of a Fort Wayne Chuck-E-Cheese or the employee lounge of an Annapolis PetSmart. Fraudulent meeting minutes were published in USA Today. At least three members of the advisory board were caught shoplifting almost-simultaneously in convenience stores hundreds of miles apart. The rift between these two schools of thought at times seemed irreconcilable. So irreconcilable that the uneasy union that comprised the DRCNFP seemed doomed for failure.

That is until word was received that one particularly rogue statistician had actually undertaken the ambitious project of identifying geographic domains of New Frontier with astounding accuracy and precision. This economist asked Dairy River to publish his findings anonymously. Takery was more than happy to oblige Dr. St. Dinwoodie and his results follow:

Dr. St. Dinwoodie hypothesized that domains of New Frontier are characterized by the co-occurrence of certain landmarks. These landmarks were laden with all the symbolism of what we roughly understand as the New Frontier in its richest, purest form. For proof of principle, Dr. Dinwoodie chose Best Buy and Target to signify the presence of a New Frontier. Dr. Dinwoodie understood, however, that these landmarks were open to interpretation and debate (we encourage this debate).

The ability to identify these domains was facilitated by the recent free availability of geographic information, namely in the form of longitude and latitude “point of interest” GPS data used for navigational devices. Many navigational devices come pre-programmed with the coordinates of these “points of interest,” and this data has been painstakingly compiled by an army of fact-finders (dare we say, New Pioneers?) and made available online, many times for free.

Dr. Dinwoodie’s method included obtaining the relevant GPS coordinates of each landmark individually in spreadsheet form, cleaning this data of extraneous information, and then combining all of the coordinates into one table. Each landmark was color-coded for reference. The data were then sorted numerically. The smaller the difference between data points (i.e. longitude and latitude coordinates), the smaller the distance between points. Areas where the difference between data points coincided with two different landmarks were identified as a New Frontier. The locations were verified using Google Maps with great success.

The following map was generated which empirically identifies a number of New Frontiers:

View New Pioneers1 in a full screen map

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