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Describe Any Location On Earth In 3 Words

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the what-if-your-location-server-is-down? dept.

Earth 478

First time accepted submitter jameshumphreys writes "London startup what3words has successfully launched a new website which has carved the world map into almost 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares, assigning each square a simple, unique 3 word address. For instance, the 'what3words' for the famous Peter Pan statue in London's Hyde Park is 'union.prop.enjoy'. This means you can easily describe even remote locations with great precision. CEO Chris Sheldrick says, 'We see our service being most useful where current methods of describing location (e.g. postcodes or ZIP codes) don't do the job well enough or don't do the job at all — but of course it has applications as a preferred alternative even where the existing solutions do a decent job, but perhaps less precise/customised than w3w.' An API is planned 'in the coming weeks.'" The heart of Disneyworld could be "Radioactive Humanoid Mice"; what would you call your neck of the woods?

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478 comments

Phoenx, Arizona (5, Funny)

Valentinial (2980593) | about 9 months ago | (#44300021)

Hot Frickin' Desert

Damn. Too many words. (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 9 months ago | (#44300177)

Sometimes, plain coordinates or a normal address would be better. Our house is on just over a hectare of land. That's about 1000 of those damn word triplets; even a fast talker would go blue in the face saying them. Our cottage is on 6½ hectares - a whole chorus would be left breathless.

Re:Damn. Too many words. (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 9 months ago | (#44300283)

San Francisco, CA: "Not United States"
Redmond, WA: "Hell On Earth"

Re:Damn. Too many words. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300337)

You missed the 3m x 3m thing - perhaps because it wasn't in feet or yards. But since you started it... My place can be described as "armpit.of.california".

Re:Phoenx, Arizona (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300293)

Los Angeles:
Fucking.smoggy.hell

Who's gonna get stuck with... (1)

rnturn (11092) | about 9 months ago | (#44300031)

... "putrid.dung.heap"?

Re:Who's gonna get stuck with... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300089)

... "putrid.dung.heap"?

In NJ we're known as the 'Armpit of America', which is a close match to yours.

Re:Who's gonna get stuck with... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300135)

I think DC is the armpit of the nation, NJ just smells like it.

Re:Who's gonna get stuck with... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 9 months ago | (#44300493)

DC is the Asshole of America - Hence the foul odor, hot air, and irritating sounds that originate from within. ... Which is quite an amazing feat, considering that it's situated squarely between the nation's armpit (NJ) and limp dick (FL).

Re:Who's gonna get stuck with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300137)

probably.your.neighborhood

Re:Who's gonna get stuck with... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#44300149)

... "putrid.dung.heap"?

And why should we expect that to be a unique identifier?

"Miserable.lying.bastards" could be applied to so many places it's not funny.

You can do it with just latitude / longitude (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300037)

You only need two pieces of information right now - latitude and longitude. Throw in elevation if you really want to be particular. Trying to make everything look like a URL address serves no real purpose.

Re:You can do it with just latitude / longitude (3, Insightful)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 9 months ago | (#44300097)

Because most people can't remember a long string of numbers but they can easily remember three english words. It is the same reason people don't carry around 128-bit AES keys in their head, even though it would make for much better security.

Re:You can do it with just latitude / longitude (3, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#44300165)

no, "most" would imply more than 3.5 billion people had that ability. most humans would not have such for english, but maybe in their native tongue.

our computers and cell phones remember such things as GPS very well, let's stick with that.

Re:You can do it with just latitude / longitude (3, Insightful)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 9 months ago | (#44300247)

Yes, but unfortunately we don't have a super great interoperable way to exchange those GPS coordinates right now. We do have lots of ways to exchange words. This bridges that gap.

Re:You can do it with just latitude / longitude (0)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#44300309)

no so, we all have cell phones (and other mobile devices) and the infrastructure to send messages by SMTP or SMS. there are billions of mobile devices, in fact in 2014 the number of total mobile devices will exceed the number of humans.

Re:You can do it with just latitude / longitude (1)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 9 months ago | (#44300465)

Yes, that is my point exactly. Unless both people share the same app for sending and interpreting the GPS coordinates, then you can't do it. But you can always send words in SMS and have the person type those words into a website. Yes, you could also send latitude/longitude, but it is harder and doesn't have the other good uses i.e. voice over a telephone.

Re:You can do it with just latitude / longitude (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#44300273)

They also seem to have an uncanny sense of telepathy. I thought about a place, and then I saw the "for example" link, and the link led to the place I was thinking of. That thing is creepy!

no.no.no (2)

peon_a-z,A-Z,0-9$_+! (2743031) | about 9 months ago | (#44300043)

Without being able to look up the mapping from the database, the three words don't seem to be useful.

Perhaps it be paired with Longitude and Latitude; making a really useful yet *boring* system all of a sudden more *fun*, yet still accessible without access to the database.

Re:no.no.no (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#44300345)

"Without being able to look up the mapping from the database, the three words don't seem to be useful."

Exactly, consumer! Our awesome new system replaces those pesky, confusing, 'numbers' that hurt your little head and interoperate with basically any map, globe, or other geography system on earth, with three simple words that are meaningful only in the context of our proprietary service! Isn't it great?

Just think of the possibilities: will it be more lucrative to charge fees for service? Or maybe mine people's queries for marketable insights about their behavior?

This is the dumbest idea ever (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300045)

Seriously, what the fuck. Why would you ever need to use this? I'm trying to figure out how the hell they would monetize this as well? Is this an article from The Onion?

Re:This is the dumbest idea ever (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#44300211)

monetizing is simple. they expect dolts to pay them a yearly cost for upkeeping a special address for you.

Re:This is the dumbest idea ever (2)

stillpixel (1575443) | about 9 months ago | (#44300241)

It does seem rather stupid and useless. It seems to me just a way to crowd source descriptions of a large number of locations, once that is done to a high level of density, you can monetize the data in some way I would guess. But again, useless and stupid for any real use.

1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#44300061)

embrace.extend.extinguish anyone?

Re:1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 (5, Funny)

rsborg (111459) | about 9 months ago | (#44300093)

embrace.extend.extinguish anyone?

Wouldn't developers.developers.developers be more appropriate to the current CEO?

Re:1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300139)

lol I wish I had mod points for this

Re:1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 (4, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | about 9 months ago | (#44300431)

I'm sure their building is larger than 3x3 meter so they have room for both and bring.more.chairs as well :)

Re:1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300143)

chair.duck.toolate

Re:1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 (2)

fizzup (788545) | about 9 months ago | (#44300195)

For what it's worth, that's a spot on the shore of God's Lake [w3w.cm] in northern Manitoba. Not a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there either.

longitude and latitude (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300063)

So, I am confused how this is better than longitude and latitude? I can use L&L offline, and it can have almost an infinite precision. Also, with my memory I am no more likely to remember the 3 words here than a long string of numbers.

um okay (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 9 months ago | (#44300073)

So they give everywhere 3x3 meter square a random three words name to make it easier to tell some one the exact place you are refering to beacause it may or may not have postal code, have they not heard of gps coordinates it?

Re:um okay (1)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 9 months ago | (#44300127)

Have you not realized that three english words are easier to remember than 12-20 random numbers?

Re:um okay (3)

mblase (200735) | about 9 months ago | (#44300343)

Have you not realized that three english words are easier to remember than 12-20 random numbers?

...unless you're not an English speaker.

Which is significant, if this is being used to identify locations on a *global* scale.

Re:um okay (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#44300351)

But what reason would you use those 3 words? "Street, street, city" is the 3 word human memorable identifier that is already in common use.

Re:um okay (2)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | about 9 months ago | (#44300389)

Remembering three English words is only useful if there was some descriptive value to the words tying them uniquely to that place. So you tell me to meet you at foo.bar.baz. Where the hell is that? How do I get there from plugh.plover.frobozz?

Re:um okay (2)

Endovior (2450520) | about 9 months ago | (#44300329)

Pretty much, yeah... an interesting idea, but more or less useless, in my opinion. The only advantage words have over numbers is that words can be easier to remember. Unfortunately, these words are only accessible online. If you have web access, then more or less by definition you have a device that you can takes notes on. Accordingly, you can record exact coordinates with essentially the same amount of effort it'd take to record random words.

I'll give it a try. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300087)

honorificabilitudinitatibus.pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism.discordianism

easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300095)

slashdot sucks dick

Screeching monkeys ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#44300111)

And people will immediately start injecting their beliefs into it, and it will devolve into competing sides trying to "define" a specific thing.

So if I say "fetid.corrupt.assholes" for Washington DC, and someone says "freedom.defenders.awesome", those two aren't reconcilable.

This is just a chance for everyone to try to shout loudest to assign their own description of something.

It's a "big.pointless.exercise".

Re:Screeching monkeys ... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#44300461)

The words are pre-filled for all locations, apparently arbitrarily(with respect to their natural-language meanings), I assume that they used some cute math trick, maybe a hash of some flavor to munge (latitude, longitude) into a unique triplet selected from the dictionary, rather than assigning them fully randomly and having to store the whole collection, rather than being able to re-generate as needed; but they don't say.

Of course, for a low annual fee, you can buy a shorter 'Oneword'(tm) to advertise your place of business or whatever, so maybe somebody will give a damn about those...

Re:Screeching monkeys ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300533)

Your.Mom.Ma

Give. Your. Money. (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about 9 months ago | (#44300151)

TFA fails to mention you have to pay to assign words to a location.

Re:Give. Your. Money. (1)

Endovior (2450520) | about 9 months ago | (#44300421)

Kinda sorta. All possible locations already have random words... if you want to change those words to some other word, they charge money for that. Probably not worth it, obviously; anyone doing so now is essentially speculating on the expansion of the system... like trying to buy up common domain names on a newly-opened TLD in order to sell it off later and/or benefit from hypothetical traffic to come once people start using that corner of the net.

822 S Robertson Blvd #350 Los Angeles, CA 90035 Un (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300155)

celebrities . diseased . junk

Yay indexing (1)

UneducatedSixpack (2829861) | about 9 months ago | (#44300163)

This could be hot for a while. Knowing that people liked planking, rickrolling and other crap this location naming could keep idiots busy for a while :)

Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300185)

Uni.Matrix.Zero

GPS coordinates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300187)

So why aren't GPS coordinates used? And why doesn't the word combination even make sense?

Good Grief (0)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 9 months ago | (#44300199)

Queue all the people complaining about how this is stupid and they will never use it. News flash: just because something isn't useful to you doesn't mean it has no value. There are lots of people in the world and, believe it or not, most of them are not you. If you can't think of how this could be useful, you are either stupid or being deliberately obtuse.

Re:Good Grief (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#44300429)

See, but the thing is, it provides no unique utility. Semantic, searchable map: already done better by Google maps. Highly specific location identifier: already done better by geocoordinates. Human memorable name for location, already done better with street names and city. There's no unique role to fill here.

Re:Good Grief (0)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 9 months ago | (#44300489)

Places in the country don't have street addresses. Places in large parks don't have street addresses. Places on the beach don't have street addresses. Anywhere that's not a building doesn't have a street address.

Re:Good Grief (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#44300457)

but most of those people would have no use for english words. someone is being obtuse all right....

Re:Good Grief (1)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 9 months ago | (#44300515)

No, you are being obtuse if you don't think they can implement this in more than one language. That is just fucking retarded to think there is some special significance to English here. The point of it is that you can succinctly communicate locations to people that you are already communicating in, presumably in a language that you share.

Re:Good Grief (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300539)

Enlighten us, oh wise one.

why.choose.english (1)

Monoman (8745) | about 9 months ago | (#44300209)

why.choose.english

Is it safe to assume that is it universally acceptable to use three random English words?

three ENGLISH words (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#44300217)

English is in decline, better choose a language used by a greater percentage of the earth's population. Mandarin and Spanish have more native speakers, perhaps we should use one of those.

Re:three ENGLISH words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300453)

English is the still the language of choice as a second language and is still the language of computers and the internet. No sign of that changing anytime soon.

english.still.rules

deal.with.english

take.that.sucka

Thereis an APP for that (1)

DadLeopard (1290796) | about 9 months ago | (#44300235)

Of course the whole thing is, you won't be able to find anything without their APP! Only for those that can not wrap their heads around the concept of Latitude and Longitude, which by the way, can get you a lot closer than a 3x3 meter square!

salt.lake.city -- St. Louis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300239)

Am I doing this right? Searching for salt.lake.city gives a location in St. Louis, MO. I know what's going on, but possibly confusing...

funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300253)

I wonder where would be "come.here.fuck"? :D

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300259)

This concept is: dumb.as.fuck

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300361)

No kidding! its.completely.worthless

Piece.of.shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300265)

I wonder where something like Piece.of.shit be? :)

Cleveland Ohio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300267)

Cleveland Ohio factory.of.sadness

Atlanta, GA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300289)

guns.moonshine.bandwidth

one.crazy.b**** (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300323)

This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

come.here.fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300339)

I wonder where would be "come.here.fuck" or "get.fucked.here"? :D
I searched but no results :P

3m x 3m area of the oval office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300365)

stupid.fucking.douchebag

3 Words? I can do it in 2... (1)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about 9 months ago | (#44300381)

Three words seems a bit excessive when it can be easily done with two words.

Earth's A$$hole = New Jersey

Thanks! I'll be here all week...

Creepy.Ass.Cracka (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300399)

(or Creepy.Ass.Cracker if the other is taken)

All locations with same 3 words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300425)

Human.Infested.Planet

A somewhat better idea... (1)

Dzimas (547818) | about 9 months ago | (#44300451)

While every square on the grid can be identified by three words, wouldn't it make sense to use a single word to describe coordinates of a few thousand key high traffic locations? After all, being able to geolocate to part of a field in Wyoming has considerably less value than a identifying the entrance of an art gallery, restaurant or popular landmark in a major city. Heck, make them meaningful, too. "Trafalgar" could geolocate the centre of the fountain in Trafalgar square (an admittedly stupid place) while "Trafalgar.north" could place you X meters north of the coordinates.

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44300467)

lousy.stinking.cubicle

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