When There’s A Will There’s A Waze

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In case you didn’t know, I’m one of the bigger potheads you’ll ever meet.  No no, I’m not referring to the devils lettuce (this time) but instead the wizarding world of Harry Potter.  Fanatic is an understatement; I’ve read all the books and have seen the movies to the point where I can go word for word throughout each films entirety.  While there are countless little nuances I love about the series, one of my all time favorite magical heirlooms will always be the Invisibility Cloak.  Gifted to Harry by his father, the cloak acts as Harry’s go-to tool to get in and out of all of his not so little predicaments.  While my 12 year old self has already come to terms with the fact that I won’t be receiving my owl anytime soon, the Apple Store has recently offered me the next best thing.

Apple Maps sucks.  Mapquest is dated and an Atlas is about as old as Hogwarts itself.  Snaps to Ehud Shabtai and his brain child WAZE!  While GPS is nothing new to the world, Waze catapulted the art of navigation into the year 3,000 with it’s ability to collectivize road and traffic information and bundle it up for global consumption.  For those of you who still haven’t dowloaded Waze, it truly is a life saver.  The mechanics behind the app are pretty simple…”Wazers” give live updates of the roads they are traveling on and the information is accessible by all other users in close proximity.  Essentially, Waze takes all the guessing out of commuting, as drivers ahead of you on the highway drop alerts in regards to traffic, hazards, conditions, and most importantly….THE FUZZ.  For those of you using the app, congratulations on your brand new invisibility cloak.  While I myself may be a little t0o trusting when it comes Waze, I honestly feel like traffic tickets are a thing of the past for me.  When a Wazer passes a cop on the road, he/she will update the Waze feed by dropping a pin in reference to the cops location, essentially telling all users who are behind to slow the fuck down….you’re a wizard Mikey!

This post can end there and we could just chalk it up as a simple app review, but as always, there’s a little more than what meets the eye here.  Waze isn’t the first GPS system on the market but it is a maverick in another way.  You see, unlike the competition, Waze utilizes the immense potential that lies in crowdsourcing.

crowd·source
ˈkroudˌsôrs/
verb
gerund or present participle: crowdsourcing
obtain (information or input into a particular task or project) by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet.
“she crowdsourced advice on album art”

 

In laymen’s terms, crowdsourcing is the art of pooling any and all available information but the key to is all is MASS and VOLUME…enlisting the collective knowledge of hundreds and thousands and millions of people to uncover the implicit trends, tastes, and overall answers to the subject in question.  In the case of Waze, users are crowdsourcing traffic to offer the biggest and best picture of the roads ahead.  In a sense, if Waze has given me the hubris to drive 90 mph until a cop is reported, dropping me back to a Boca Raton 45, well then I think in terms of crowdsourcing, we’ve only just hit the tip of the ice berg.

The beauty behind crowdsourcing is a lesson you’ve heard since Pre-K.  It’s a lesson in community and in trust…it’s one of those “it takes a village” kinda things.  If everyone simply does their part and offers a hand, the issues that can be dismantled are endless.  Whether it be cutting down commute time or something as esoteric as “what music do kids between the ages of 12-13 listen to on Tuesday afternoons between the hours of 6-7,” I really think that this is one of the tools our world needs to use in order to continue with our progression.

One last thing (trust me I know this is too long already I’m working on it!)  Do you remember the essay by Garret Hardin called “The Tragedy of the Commons?”  I really pray I’m not the only one who held onto 8th grad Earth Science.  Regardless, the essay explains that people all share a common.  The common can be your families living room, the parks basketball courts, or the gyms locker room…more or less it’s something that is shared amongst the community.  The essay explains that it is up to everyone to care for the common because it only takes one bad apple to spoil the lot.  Aside from my bedroom and my cell phone, everything else is a common in my opinion.  Crowdsourcing is the tool to preserve our commons.  Sharing knowledge and information makes everyone feel some sense of accountability.  It’s why Wazers risk running off the road while looking at their phone to update a traffic report while driving.  It creates a sense of responsibility that is hard to ignore.  So when it comes to our commons, namely the beautiful world we are all fortunate enough to be a part of…do your part!  No speeding tickets ever again? Down.

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