The geography of innovation as reflected by social media

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Capturing whether mysteries of trade are ‘in the air’ remains a central issue for understanding the spatial nature of innovative activities. We offer new insights on the intangible dimension of the geography of innovation comparing the spatial distribution of patenting rates and a novel measure of ‘innovative buzz’ from a 9-billion-word corpus based on 900 million geolocated tweets across US counties. We find the use of words connected to innovation and technology to be characterised by significant spatial concentration. The results show the presence of strong bivariate correlation in the spatial clustering between the two elements, pointing to stimulating opportunities in the use of big data from social media for economic geography research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Early online date23 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sep 2020


  • Social Media
  • geotagged Twitter
  • geography of innovation
  • patents
  • big data


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