I’d come across the what3words addressing system a while back, and I thought I could use it as an interesting and fun way in to reflect on St Loyes as a place. The system divides the world into 3 metre squares and assigns three words to each. This works even when regular house and street addressing breaks down, for example in refugee camps. So what3words could even provide an opportunity to step into others’ shoes and provoke a bit of thought.
I came up with the idea of creating a simple web-based application that encouraged people to reflect on a place that meant something to them, select it on a map, and enter three words about the place. If they wanted, they could also enter their name and one word about how they felt or what they did in that place. The application would also tell them the what3words address of their place, store their submissions in a database, and put their marker on the map for others to find.
I had four ways of selecting a place:
- Choose your present location
- Click anywhere on the map
- Search for a what3words location
- Search for a location or street address
While, say, Google provides tutorials and examples, these only go so far. What looks simple and even ‘done for you’ on the surface, turns out only to go so far; it requires all sorts of interpretation, and the documentation is frustratingly incomplete. I had to solve bajillions of problems to do with eg device responsiveness, geolocation, clustering markers, catching errors and missing data, catching spam. Stack Overflow is my friend!
Of course, it all meant I was quite chuffed to overcome the challenges and get the application working in both a regular web page and embedded in WordPress. Go me!
I’d done what I set out to do, and learnt a lot on the way, so that sense of accomplishment stayed with me when I got the feedback from my friends: the what3words aspect was confusing. The feedback even made sense to me. Once upon a time I did a poetry-writing course (I’m rubbish), and one of the things that stayed with me was the notion of ‘scaffolding’. Often the initial idea for the poem provides the scaffolding for its construction, but the poet then needs to get rid of it for the poem to soar. In the same way, what3words was the spark for the application, but it needed to go.
Why not have a go now? Find a place and make your mark… First pause and reflect for a moment, and then choose three words that your place means to you. If you would like to, you can add your first name or nickname, and one word about yourself right now. This could be how you are feeling, or what you are doing.
Please also feel free to click on the map markers to find out what others have said about their places. You may also notice some mysterious ‘FALAFELS drops’. More about that anon…