why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

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Mick F
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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby Mick F » 27 Aug 2020, 8:47am

I keep asking the same question ..........

Why does anyone need to pay anything?

Your mobile device app is free, and it tells you your three words.
You then pass those onto someone else, and they can look it up to see where you are.
No money required.

What am I missing here?
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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby Mick F » 27 Aug 2020, 8:50am

PS

I was here yesterday for an hour.
Where was I?

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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 27 Aug 2020, 9:17am

Will wrote:We don't know what sort of contract the emergency services have with What3Words. The word dictionaries are fixed and cannot be updated (you cannot pay to have a personal W3W code for your location), so if they have purchased a copy of the word dictionaries then they are free of any control. I would suspect that What3Words have given the emergency services a cut price rate as it helps to promote the service, and helps them sell to commercial customers (like the courier companies).


I will eat my 128GB ElasticSearch geocoding database if the emergency services have paid w3w a penny. The free publicity that w3w get from this is worth much more than the tiny revenue they'd get from a bunch of impoverished public sector organisations. (It's interesting that MRTs and experienced mountain leaders are much more sceptical about w3w than the Fire & Rescue-type organisations, but that's perhaps a different topic.)

Ultimately the question about w3w is: they have raised at least $56m (figure from Jan 2019, so very possibly more by now). Venture capital funds typically want a 10x exit (so that, when you factor in the investments that don't succeed, they get a 3x return on the fund). So w3w are effectively $560m+ in the hole.

How is that money going to be recouped?
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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby thirdcrank » 27 Aug 2020, 9:21am

Mick F wrote:PS

I was here yesterday for an hour.
Where was I?

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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby speedsixdave » 27 Aug 2020, 11:38am

Mick F wrote:I keep asking the same question ..........

Why does anyone need to pay anything?

Your mobile device app is free, and it tells you your three words.
You then pass those onto someone else, and they can look it up to see where you are.
No money required.

What am I missing here?


speedsixdave wrote:
... if a commodity appears to be free, then you are the commodity...



Apologies for quoting myself, but it's still true, and that's what you're missing. You - the apparent 'end user' - pay with your geospatial information. Some larger users will probably pay with real money for access to the database. And some other large users will pay with real money to find out where people go and when.
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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby Mick F » 27 Aug 2020, 12:27pm

We are all commodities one way or another. Someone makes money from whilst we breathe! :wink:

Why do "larger users" need to pay anything at all?
I could spend all day on my phone and/or on my computer looking at hundreds of Three Words and corresponding locations worldwide.

No limit.
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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby Will » 27 Aug 2020, 12:46pm

Mick F wrote:We are all commodities one way or another. Someone makes money from whilst we breathe! :wink:

Why do "larger users" need to pay anything at all?
I could spend all day on my phone and/or on my computer looking at hundreds of Three Words and corresponding locations worldwide.

No limit.


Larger users will pay for an API key so that they can integrate the lookups into their own applications directly.

I find the whole geospatial information "issue" rather spurious. People automatically leak all sort of information when using Social Media, Google Maps, etc. Your every movement is tracked if you carry a mobile phone (from mast triangulation). What3Words is not an application that someone is going to be using daily, so only a tiny fraction of what you leak will be from What3Words. If you are sent a link by an emergency service, then that version will not send any information to What3Words (only the emergency service will receive the data).

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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby simonineaston » 27 Aug 2020, 12:50pm

In fairness to a politician who may not have had this consequence exactly in mind, when she got the ball rolling, along with her chum Ronnie, back in the '80s. It's turned out more Atlas Shrugged than the cosy notion of Buy Your Own Council House... now the cat's out the bag, we're all product. Going back will be tough or impossible - no-one's come up with a viable alternative yet. Clock's ticking.
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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby Navara » 27 Aug 2020, 1:27pm

W3W.
Use it if you want to.
Don't if you don't.
The way certain posters are carrying on you'd think it was a crime to use this simple app :roll:

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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby Brucey » 27 Aug 2020, 1:47pm

Navara wrote:W3W.
Use it if you want to.
Don't if you don't.
The way certain posters are carrying on you'd think it was a crime to use this simple app :roll:


the flip side of this is that

a) it mightn't actually be of any help anyway (it might even be harmful; e.g. you could run out of battery whilst WTWing instead of getting help...?) and
b) if it is perceived to be of any help then you can get into a situation where if you don't subscribe to that (privately owned) app then it may be considered 'irresponsible' i.e. contributory negligence.

A comparable example is that I don't carry a mobile phone around with me and this elicits responses from others ranging from 'how do you manage?' to 'is that safe?'. The first question is usually innocent enough but underlying it is an assumption about whether you should or should not be carrying such a thing. The second question is much more loaded; it implies that if you don't have a phone with you and you get injured in any way, it might (to some extent or other) be judged to be your fault.

I'm not convinced that WTW has much to offer, in fact. But if it does, I am somewhat uneasy about the nature of the database ownership, much as mjr and others are. Maybe the privacy implications are not severe at present, but that isn't necessarily always going to be the case.

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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby simonineaston » 27 Aug 2020, 2:02pm

Mick F wrote:What am I missing here?
What you are missing is the simple notion that the system was developed to monetise the information. As has been pointed out severally upthread, there are plenty of systems out there already that allow identification & sharing of coordinates and that are open-source. So the point of w3w is classical enterprise, that is:
a) it offers (or claims to...) a benefit
b) those who think the benefit sounds good can pay for it.
That's the point. That's what it's for.
EDIT: I didn't state the obvious corollary, which on reflection, was an oversight, that is: if you don't percieve a benefit (or if you do, but can't afford it...), then you don't buy it, and you risk the consequences. In the example that's the subject of this dicussion, you simply use one of the other methods of identifying your location, with no loss. However, there is an outside chance that the emergency service you call, in between gritting your teeth over the pain of the broken ankle, may respond thus, "I'm sorry Sir, the location service we use here at [insert name of emergnecy service provider] uses and endorses w3w and so we must insist that you do so too..." That's neo-liberalism / market-forces for you.
Last edited by simonineaston on 27 Aug 2020, 2:48pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby speedsixdave » 27 Aug 2020, 2:08pm

Will wrote:
I find the whole geospatial information "issue" rather spurious. People automatically leak all sort of information when using Social Media, Google Maps, etc. Your every movement is tracked if you carry a mobile phone (from mast triangulation).


Well precisely - W3W just adds to the verified information about one and one's interests and that's why it's not spurious. "Four spatio-temporal data points are sufficient to uniquely identify 95% of individuals in the UK", as I mentioned earlier, and that's a serious issue. Don't get me wrong, I'm as deep into this mire as the next punter and I use all sorts of helpful services that 'incidentally' expose my whole life to whosoever wishes to pay to learn about it, but we ought to be aware that we are complicit in this awesome mass-observation. We are the lobsters in the pan and we're the ones slowly turning up the heat.

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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby mjr » 27 Aug 2020, 2:15pm

Will wrote:
mjr wrote:
Will wrote:I work as an IT consultant

So you can see the problem with products based on control of code word dictionaries?


It would have been better if it had been the result of open source development, but it wasn't.

It was, as map projections and coding dictionaries are widely-available open source, as is most of the software they're using to run their infrastructure. All they've done is probably taken non-share-alike versions of projections and codings and combined it with their own dictionary, then their main innovation has been convincing people to pump in millions in Venture Capital to fund their marketing effort.

But, as Richard Fairhurst points out, those VC investors will want their half-billion or so payback sooner or later and how are they going to get it?

The way some are going on, it's like this latest repeat of the old antipattern of attempting to enclose some common knowledge is some sort of innovative effort that everyone should thank these robber barons for. It's the stubborn and steadfast refusal to learn from history that grates. Use it if you want but please stop trying to drag others into the confidence scheme with you.
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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby Will » 27 Aug 2020, 2:57pm

mjr wrote:
Will wrote:
mjr wrote:So you can see the problem with products based on control of code word dictionaries?


It would have been better if it had been the result of open source development, but it wasn't.

It was, as map projections and coding dictionaries are widely-available open source, as is most of the software they're using to run their infrastructure. All they've done is probably taken non-share-alike versions of projections and codings and combined it with their own dictionary, then their main innovation has been convincing people to pump in millions in Venture Capital to fund their marketing effort.

But, as Richard Fairhurst points out, those VC investors will want their half-billion or so payback sooner or later and how are they going to get it?

The way some are going on, it's like this latest repeat of the old antipattern of attempting to enclose some common knowledge is some sort of innovative effort that everyone should thank these robber barons for. It's the stubborn and steadfast refusal to learn from history that grates. Use it if you want but please stop trying to drag others into the confidence scheme with you.


It would have been better if the contents of the word dictionary was the result of open source development. Populating the word dictionary wasn't just a simple case of randomly assigning three letters to each square. The most common used words are used in the more densely populated areas (which have to be identified), and you also have to avoid using similar 3 word phrases in locations that are close to each other. How much work that involves, I do not know (I prefer to use facts rather than speculation). This work could have been carried out by the open source community and the word dictionary would then be open to everyone, but it wasn't, so it isn't.

The mostly likely outcome for the investors to make a profit (or even just get their investment back) is for it to be adopted by commercial companies all over the world (who pay for API key to access the data directly), or for it to be bought out by someone like Amazon. Amazon would be a good fit as it would help them to expand their business into areas where addressing can be an issue (such as in the developing world).

I'm not going to take the bait and respond to your last paragraph. You clearly have issues with people holding a different view to yourself, and I can only pity you.

Will

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Re: why the 'what three words' TV ad is so annoying?

Postby simonineaston » 27 Aug 2020, 3:38pm

This work could have been carried out by the open source community and the word dictionary would then be open to everyone, but it wasn't, so it isn't.
Ah good-old hind-sight! Being a successful entrepreneur means spotting a gap (or making one up...), developing a solution and then bringing it to market. The system of patents is the key to making sure third-parties don't leap on all the hard-work and simpy replicate it. How does one patent a digital idea?
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