A Conversation for What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Peer Review: A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Entry: What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb - A87932398
Author: Dmitri Gheorgheni - U1590784

I just found out about this last weekend. I was fascinated.

smiley - dragon


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 2

minorvogonpoet

This is certainly intriguing.smiley - smiley But it raises questions. smiley - erm

Do we want every Tom,Dick,Harry, Ivan, Cheng etc to be able to find us that easily? Or am I being paranoid? smiley - yikes

I rather liked the three word address for my place but I've no idea how that is derived from 'complex GPS co-ordinates'

Are you advertising a private business?



A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 3

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

I'm not advertising, I'm reviewing. Note that an article criticising the scheme is included. I admit I'm enthusiastic about the idea, though. But we wax enthusiastic about our favourite book, restaurant, or park, so why not this? Basically, I'm trying to explain how it works.

I'm sure many people feel that they would prefer not to be so easily found - especially if they're on the lam smiley - winkeye - but GPS coordinates will do the same thing. If you don't want people to know where you are, er, don't tell them?

I hate to suggest this, as it's on the level of Charles Schultz's 'becoming aware of your tongue', but...

If you're using a computer, 'they' know where you are. smiley - winkeye It's called an IP address...


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 4

SashaQ - happysad

Great Entry - I saw this on social media, so I appreciate the guide to the topic smiley - ok

I like the title, but I wonder if you somehow need to work into the Entry what an electronic thumb is... smiley - ok

I'm not quite sure I understand the prologue - is it saying that IDs for locations that do not include street names are not easy to find?

I like the mention of GPS coordinates, and can see how what3words would be useful in a car satnav smiley - ok Better than postcodes in the sense that if you're in Manchester in a taxi and want to go to a hotel one would hope the taxi driver would think twice before attempting to drive to another continent if the words were input incorrectly (I once had the experience of a taxi driver finding a postcode for the London head office of the hotel company and trying to put it in his satnav!). Postcodes are sufficiently vague for other purposes, though, when you don't want someone knowing where you live to within 3 metres...

I wonder if the Languages section is a bit too precise - could be made vaguer so the Entry won't become out of date as soon as the 27th language is added...

Excellent list of interesting places smiley - ok

Excellent ending to the Entry, too smiley - ok


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 5

SashaQ - happysad

Good questions mvp - when I first heard about this I found it worrying, not least because I wondered if what3words were some sort of scam to get people to tell scammers exactly where they live, like the memes on social media that get people to say what their secret questions/answers are... Just like street addresses, you don't have to tell people what your codes are, though smiley - ok

It was reassuring to learn in this Entry about how the scheme is based on GPS co-ordinates and a mathematical code algorithm to convert 3 words to locations and then back again using the app smiley - ok As a mathematician, I appreciate the maths underlying the code - mathematics is trustworthy in the sense that logical proof is fundamental, but many things can be misused... This Entry is useful in giving more information about the company, too, to clarify that it is an information provider rather than a user smiley - ok


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 6

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Excellent suggestions on the whole. smiley - ok And after an off-site discussion with the Core Team, I have realised that there is more worry about the increasing accuracy of geolocators than I thought. Y'all are worse than Daniel Boone, I swear: he said if he could see his neighbour's chimney smoke, he had to move. Here's the roundup of what I have changed:

smiley - biro I explained about the electronic thumb. You're right: somebody might be reading this who had never heard of the Hitchhiker's Guide, even though the site is called h2g2.

smiley - biroThe prologue was to explain that Europe, too, has been one of the dark places of the world when it comes to finding your way around. I could have used the example of rich people on Philadelphia's Main Line, who deliberately don't put up street signs and caused me to get lost at George Washington's Headquarters about once a week. Instead of changing it, I tried to use a better segue to the next bit. See if that works for you.

smiley - biro Since some people are nervous about this, I have put in a paragraph about how this makes people nervous and paranoid. Which is why the rich people on the Main Line don't have street signs, etc.

smiley - biro I have reluctantly removed the list of languages. I thought it was interesting, and could have been updated occasionally. I wanted to show that they not only chose European languages, but also Asian languages and languages like isiXhosa. But anybody interested could find that information on the website. Instead, I have pointed out that the app can also be voice-activated.





A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 7

SashaQ - happysad

Nicely done reference to the electronic thumb, and it links in with the mention of the person stuck in the mud, too smiley - ok Useful for people who have heard of the Hitchhiker's Guide but don't know all the details as well smiley - ok

That is a better segue, thanks - what3words also numbers locations without reference to the street they are on, but the app is an easier way of finding what's where than the trial and error of the postman looking for 4711 smiley - ok

I'm not quite sure about the flavour of the paragraph about the 'sure fire way to not get lost' as you mention satnav in the same paragraph, and that also uses GPS so it is an app that can find you if you are lost... It is less about finding your own location and more about finding other people who know their location?

Sorry I wasn't clear about the Languages section - I was thinking you could take out mention of "currently 26" as that is too precise, and keep the list of example languages that is interesting smiley - ok


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 8

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Okay, I put the languages back in. smiley - laugh

I wasn't sure what you meant by your other comment. I took the word 'satnav' out. (Americans don't know what that is, anyway.)

This is true: it's about helping other people find you. I think that's fairly clear, though. One of their videos pointed out - at least, I believe it was them - that 70% of Brits using satnav report getting lost, anyway. smiley - laugh

I also didn't want to get into the fact that GPS is a service of the United States Air Force - at least, until they give it to the 'Space Force'.


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 9

You can call me TC

I looked up my home address using the link you gave. It gives me three totally unrelated words which I have forgotten already. Because in German a street name is usually only one word anyway (e.g. Goethestrasse), the whole address itself is only three words which I find easier to remember. I'm going to need some convincing that this system is necessary! smiley - tongueincheek


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 10

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

It's a valid point. I agree: as a regular consumer in western Europe, you might not find this as useful as someone who didn't have as many resources. If you lived in a place where there is less infrastructure, you'd find it more useful.

what3words says: 'In order to help people, we first have to find them. This is true in emergency scenarios – a family trapped by an earthquake, a collapsed music lover at a crowded concert, or a pregnant women in difficulty in a remote area. It’s just as true when providing long-term support and development – safe drinking water for poor communities or health and vaccination records for children in unofficial settlements.'

http://what3words.com/2017/05/making-world-safer-place-3-simple-words/

The Hoggett farm could have used this at one time. They couldn't get packages delivered by the United Parcel Service (UPS) because they had no street address, merely a rural delivery route number. To help farmers like them, the county named their road and gave them a house number in the late 20th Century. smiley - laugh

This might be useful in a current debate in the US: people who live on Native American reservation land are having problems with their voter registration due to lack of postal addresses.

Do you think this point needs to be made more clearly? smiley - bigeyes


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 11

SashaQ - happysad

Sorry my other comment was not clear either - I'm not quite sure what I'm thinking, but it was just that I'm not sure the paragraph says what it means, somehow...

I read "What this world needs is a sure-fire way not to get lost." as saying that what3words is a completely new thing, but it isn't - GPS already exists A523216 and what3words is built on it...

I think what is new about what3words is "Three words are a lot easier to memorise than coordinates of latitude and longitude." so it is easier than GPS in terms of humans conveying the information to each other...

Is that also why it is translated into other languages and not just available in Swedish like IKEA furniture, so that it is as easy as possible for everyone to memorise?

You can put a link A189452 on 'they' smiley - ok


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 12

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

I can fix that problem in a phrase, Sasha. So I did. Thanks for explaining. I wasn't sure which 'they' you wanted your link on, so I put it where I thought it would work.

Yeah, translating it into as many languages as possible is probably to make it more useful worldwide. I like that IKEA analogy! smiley - smiley

I also did some serious thinking about TC's point. It seems that the implications of this system for developing countries needed more explanation. So I went back and added that quote from what3words and put in a paragraph about these broader implications. Thanks for the help, TC! smiley - smiley

That said, I'm not going to try and sell this system any harder than I've already done. You may not like it personally, but it's worth writing about. I'm not getting paid to sign people up. smiley - winkeye


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 13

SashaQ - happysad

Nicely done, thanks - the paragraph has good flavour now smiley - ok

The link to 'they' rather than the GPS Entry is on GPS - the link to 'they' can go on the word 'they' (the one in inverted commas) smiley - ok

The addition of more detail about the benefits is good, but it perhaps sits more neatly in Pros and Cons section as you already touched on it there?


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 14

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

smiley - doh The penny drops, belatedly. (Sorry, crazy day.) And you're right - those paragraphs go under the other header. smiley - dohsmiley - doh

Thanks!


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 15

Gnomon - time to move on

Is it true that the system uses smaller words for popular places such as the centre of London and longer words for less frequently visited places such as the centre of the Pacific Ocean?


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 16

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

That I don't know. I'll try to find out. smiley - smiley


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 17

You can call me TC

This was discussed on this week's QI by the way.

https://youtu.be/tAe3XCjc2nw right at the beginning (3mins, 45 secs in)


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 18

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

smiley - ok That's what inspired this entry - a tweet from QI. We have a symbiotic relationship. smiley - whistle


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 19

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

I can't find that information about word choice, Gnomon. I do know that they made it so that similar words don't occur near each other, and that they originally thought they'd let people pay for addresses like posh licence plates, but quickly gave that up.

If anybody finds an answer to that question, I'd love to know. smiley - smiley


A87932398 - What3words: How to Be Found on Earth, or Finally, an Electronic Thumb

Post 20

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Wait! smiley - biggrin I take it back - I found it in their FAQ. (I was looking in the wrong place.)

Here it is:

'Typically, longer words appear in more remote locations (such as the sea - in English - and the deserts and remote areas of the world in all languages) and shorter words will be in cities and more populated areas.'

http://support.what3words.com/hc/en-us/articles/207769575-What-are-the-shortest-and-longest-words-used-


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