Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Madison's Got Flavor

A blogger for Forté Madison, a lifestyle magazine for Madison, Wisconsin recently wrote a blog post that refers to City Dictionary. Ben Wollin noticed that Madison has the greatest number of entries on the site and could very well be the "Semantic Capital of the World". While it's only natural for us to build up a large community in our native Madison, let's not lose sight of the fact that Madison truly does have local flavor. Perhaps we never would have thought of the idea for City Dictionary if local language and culture weren't oozing out of the city's pores. 

Among the characteristics that make Madison a prime area for local flavor are its...

  1. Medium size. Madison's not-too-big-but-not-too-small stature creates a large enough community to have a diverse mix of people, but isn't too big to have culture so disjointed among different parts of the city.
  2. Great college atmosphere. Anyone who goes to school here can attest to the intense Madison experience, whether it's the sports (see Grateful Red), the social events (see Mifflin Street Block Party), or the colorful downtown characters (see Scanner Dan). This unique experience is what draws a great mix of people to the UW, which then enhances even more so the local language and culture that makes for a great Madison city dictionary. 
  3. Strong state culture. Wisconsinites are a very unique, proud people who definitely bring a lot of local culture to the table in Madison. Being the capital city--and a college town--there's definitely more to it than what the yokels bring, but it's still a Wisconsin city at its core. Consequently, the friendly Wisconsin temperment and the brat-eating (see Bratfest), fish-frying, and beer-drinking culture (see Beerfest) truly make the city what it is. 
You put all of this together and you have both a wonderful place to live and the makings of an interesting city dictionary with rich local language and culture. 

With that said, there is a lot of local flavor that is not yet captured by other cities' dictionary on the website. Perhaps one problem is that language and culture comes so naturally and subconsciously to locals that it's hard to think of, much less articulate to an outsider. Rather than discourage us in our task to create the best city reference on the internet, it actually reinforces us in what we do. If not for City Dictionary, where else will you find out about the more obscure language and culture references? If you go to other city sites and encyclopedic references, you simply won't find them. And since we believe that these local subtleties provide the absolute best way to learn about a city, we are steadfast in our task of creating an online community that celebrates them.

So, Ben, you may very well be right about Madison. Maybe we do have the most local flavor. We'll have to see if other cities can rise to the challenge and prove you wrong.

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