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What Three Words
July 18, 2013 7:05 PM   Subscribe

What Three Words has changed the complex numbers of zip codes and post codes, longitude and latitude, into three English words.

Whether you're looking for something, or seeking a catchy phrase to mark your location, or you're just messing around, there is potential for fun, abuse... and profit. W3W is selling the right to choose your own three words, or one word, to mark the location of your choice. In the meantime, what do your free three words say about your location?
posted by The otter lady (86 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my god. This is awesome. Incidentally, I looked up oh.my.god and found nothing. I guess it's only nouns or something.
posted by Halogenhat at 7:11 PM on July 18, 2013


this seems useless.

Like, what is the use case for spending money on this, on a scale large enough to help anyone?
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:12 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


It certainly is different. But arguing that using three words is better is just silly. For one thing, you can't just say "meet me at some.place.here" over the phone like they use as an example, without also telling the recipient the web address they will need to look up to find out what place you are talking about, and that would just piss me off as recipient of the call. A street address can be used from any mobile device these days, from a computer, from a car GPS... I cannot think of a single use case in which forcing people to their website is a better option, or a less confusing option, than using the address. Even if you are meeting at a non-addressed location, GPS coordinates work fine on their own, without the need for computer access.

That said, I can definitely see the reason behind the site, which is to offer yet another way for people to pay for their vanity now that all the easy URLs are taken.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:18 PM on July 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


One thing I can think of is this might be a fun way to remember Geocaches. For example, I happen to know there's one at dumped.mission.wisely.
posted by The otter lady at 7:21 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live by a place called "Tower Hill Park". What do you think the three words are? "cubs.rooted.ducks"

This is the dumbest thing I've seen in a while, and given I spent all day at a senior leadership retreat for my organization, that's really saying something.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 7:22 PM on July 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


I'm not sure I completely understand this. San Diego, CA gives me truck.filled.zone.
posted by Redfield at 7:26 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I said the specific words, you'd all know where my house is, but I'm quite pleasantly surprised with what they came up with.
posted by chimaera at 7:28 PM on July 18, 2013


I'm all for quirky Web 3.0 or what.have.you, but this is a solution looking for a problem. It's still cute though.
posted by tpdc at 7:32 PM on July 18, 2013


My storied Southern hometown is zoned.pillow.grant. Cambridge, Mass., is sting.locker.bags.

Now, I don't like to mock new tech, because it makes you sound like an epic idiot if the stuff ever takes off, but I don't have high hopes for this. It's not sticky. Unlike the old telephone exchanges, there's nothing catchy about it, nor could you figure it out on your own account. If people ever buy stickers or shirts advertising their residence in newest.froth.glass, I will eat my hat.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:34 PM on July 18, 2013


I remember saying on LiveJournal that neither Twitter nor Tumblr would take off because they seemed frivolous.

If I mention this site on LiveJournal, do I guarantee its success? I don't think I'll mention it on LiveJournal.

guaranteed.success.banjos
posted by Redfield at 7:40 PM on July 18, 2013


No "colorless green ideas" :(
posted by Bromius at 7:40 PM on July 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey, look where humble.echo.sticky takes you.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:42 PM on July 18, 2013


Sadly, no Monkey Fighting Cowgirls, but there is a Star Spangled Banana. In England.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:42 PM on July 18, 2013


I typed in my zip code instead of the name of my city+state, and got blob.jolly.fumes.
posted by Redfield at 7:45 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing I like too is that each 2-meter area has its own code. So if you don't like the code that marks part of your house, you can move it along slightly and find something more catchy. So if handle.second.fall isn't your thing, maybe you'd prefer sells.codes.stack.
posted by The otter lady at 7:46 PM on July 18, 2013


The degree of resolution seems awfully high. I had three different sets in my yard alone. And why not two words? A word for parallel "longitudinal" (so they run north-south but don't converge at the poles) lines about 30 feet apart and another for each a set of latitudinal lines also about 30 feet apart.
posted by sourwookie at 7:48 PM on July 18, 2013


duck duck goose
posted by elmer benson at 7:49 PM on July 18, 2013


If sour.sapphire.coo doesn't point to Barnard's star, I will be upset.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:52 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I put in "frogtown," the name of my neighborhood in Saint Paul, and came up with elegant puppet resting, which is cool, but it's for a different Frogtown.
posted by elmer benson at 7:53 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems like it would be better if the first word described an area, the second one described a subdivision of that and the third subdivided that. That way, if you were looking for wiggle.tickle.chicken and you were at wiggle.tickle.change, you'd know that you were close.

I don't see this being around in a year, but I said the same thing about twitter.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:58 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"No results for 'axe.wielding.monkeys'."

Whatever.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:00 PM on July 18, 2013


I'm not sure how I feel about them selling one-word location markers for a yearly fee, a la domain names. I guess that's cool since they're cheap ($1.50/year), but... yeah.
posted by floomp at 8:00 PM on July 18, 2013


duck.duck.goose!
posted by jquinby at 8:00 PM on July 18, 2013


I live by a place called "Tower Hill Park". What do you think the three words are? "cubs.rooted.ducks"

I'm sorry, you live here now.
posted by odinsdream at 8:06 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's really dumb. As double block and bleed says it needs to have domain/subdomain/machine or region/municipality/location structure, or it's completely pointless.
posted by unSane at 8:06 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to think of a good thing to say about this and it's making my head hurt.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:08 PM on July 18, 2013


Shire.Baggins....
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:09 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


fish.magic.stick - OK then!
posted by joelf at 8:20 PM on July 18, 2013


I used to live in a mushroom.flesh.bandana
posted by joelf at 8:22 PM on July 18, 2013


I used to live in Scotland where my room is marked by playing.mailboxes.currently.
posted by The otter lady at 8:24 PM on July 18, 2013


If you search for Toronto it drops a marker at City Hall and names it "weekday.jogging.helps," which is kind of funny.
posted by chococat at 8:26 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


purple monkey dishwasher
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 8:27 PM on July 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't know if this has any actual biz value in 2013, but I do think the contrast between identifying things by name/concept vs. identifying them numerically is really interesting.

Like with the numbers, you get a lot more information about the thing's place in relation to other things... I know that 123 4th St is probably closer to 256 4th St than to 750 4th St. Or that 4th St is probably near 5th St. And it might basically tell me how to get there, if I live in a grid-city (which I do). Stuff like that. BUT if I misremember 256 4th St as 254 6th St, I'm kind of SOL.

Whereas if I live at Bag End on Bagshot Row in Hobbiton, I'll probably still be able to effectively communicate about it even if I do misremember it as Sack End or Bigshot Row or whatever, but I'd have no clue just off the name alone if that's closer to Bree or Mordor, nor how to get there. Guess that's why you need to be told how to get to Sesame St.

It's like efficiency vs robustness, and as humans I feel we tend to do things in redundant ways in general (natural language, bodily functions, societal roles) whereas so many of the artifacts of modern technology we're producing rely on efficiency (currency, bar codes, IP addresses). Not sure what that means, other than I still have a hard time dictating my phone number cause I tend to switch up the digits.

I like that (at least in the U.S. and the other Western countries I've lived in) our current system for locating buildings and other locations is a nice mix of both, and either one gets you approximately there. Like Pennsylvania Av, Washington, DC narrows things down quite a bit, but so does 20500, and if you totally botch up either of them you won't be totally left with nothing.
posted by DLWM at 8:29 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, a dozen ARG writers have just entered a race.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:32 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Trying to figure out what this service offers that no other mapping service already offers...

quirky names for places that already have names. Which is new and interesting. It might help some people who have difficulty memorizing street names, numbers, zip codes and the like, and as previously mentioned it's a fun way to memorized geocache sites.

I could have used this kind of system when trying to find people's addresses in Japan, but now I live in a grid based city, so I can pretty much figure out how to get anywhere when given the street numbers, and address number.
posted by PipRuss at 8:34 PM on July 18, 2013


This is totally dumb and totally awesome. (The attempt to sell "OneWords" is pretty laughable, though...bridge, Brooklyn, etc.)
posted by threeants at 8:39 PM on July 18, 2013


"Whereas if I live at Bag End on Bagshot Row in Hobbiton, I'll probably still be able to effectively communicate about it even if I do misremember it as Sack End or Bigshot Row or whatever, but I'd have no clue just off the name alone if that's closer to Bree or Mordor, nor how to get there. Guess that's why you need to be told how to get to Sesame St.."

If you are ever lost in a gridded midwestern city, the streets are often named in groups. Downtown you will typically find Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, in order; you'll find residential streets just outside the downtown named after states, often in geographical groupings (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania); groups of Great Lakes (Ontario, Erie, Superior, Huron); trees (Ash, Elm, Myrtle, Apple) and so on. Of course they'll also be randomly distributed among names of founding citizens and granddaughters of housing developers and whatnot, but if you're in the downtown of a midwestern city and you stumble across a street named after a president, you'll probably find five more right in a row.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:55 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find this very interesting. Sadly, people still communicate by speaking fairly often, we are kinda optimized for it. If I'm on the phone with someone and they can tell me where to go with three words over the phone and my device could pick them up, or I could enter a destination into my phone this way it could be very cool.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:58 PM on July 18, 2013


We couldn't find any results for fuck.shit.piss
posted by not_on_display at 9:01 PM on July 18, 2013


So this reminds me a lot of Amazon PayPhrase, except we already have pretty well established systems for naming locations and conveying geographical knowledge to one another. Of course, Amazon shut down PayPhrase last year after discovering that nobody used it, so that doesn't bode well.

I guess I could see this as useful in some parts of the world without coherent place naming schemes. Three English words (if you happen to know English, and many people who live in such places do not) is a lot simpler than having to draw a map to explain how to find your house. It's probably better for such places to develop their own addressing schemes though.
posted by zachlipton at 9:05 PM on July 18, 2013


Entering "Minneapolis" got me union.backed.laptop


Sounds legit.


I then entered my house and got ...something very, very appropriate.

Now I am kinda scared.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:11 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


While the mobile version was locking in on my house, I swear I briefly saw "messy.divorce...." flash up..
posted by Jimbob at 9:12 PM on July 18, 2013


ouch.

mine was just about inebriated mythical creatures.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:14 PM on July 18, 2013


Not to give away my location, but I am marked.smart.maps
posted by newper at 9:25 PM on July 18, 2013


"We couldn't find any results for off.my.lawn"
posted by fredludd at 9:27 PM on July 18, 2013


"safely.planets.degrade?" Yikes!
posted by Lynsey at 9:39 PM on July 18, 2013


The local Kentucky Fried Chicken boasts a lot of names:

report.moth.boat
device.raves.moons
larger.smile.wiping
spends.kinks.paths
shells.craft.popped
become.fairly.hill
sulk.page.almost
grid.stand.punch
petal.flames.charm
seemed.axes.booth
deaf.nearby.big
slices.jelly.kite
swift.first.sleepy
plus.mini.flame
woes.burst.custom
begin.idea.donor
elder.across.view
dreams.beyond.bossy
choice.hush.junior
makes.home.safely
eggs.snows.marker
skirt.people.loser
discouraged.rated.slide
dare.scar.daring
looked.scale.gain <--- my favorite
bared.cliff.agenda
broken.onions.assist
part.joins.usage
hello.winner.spit
mobile.riding.soap
accepts.trades.tows
loose.mute.beast
blend.glad.skips
deaf.nearby.big
plus.mini.flame
posted by MikeWarot at 9:45 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


My dad is buried at parent.loaf.card Really wierd way of choosing names.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:50 PM on July 18, 2013


It seems like all the words they use are in English. Not that this makes it any worse than it already is, but still.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 PM on July 18, 2013


pointless.money.waste
posted by en forme de poire at 10:21 PM on July 18, 2013


Where the hell are you? I said meet me at the empire.state.building!
posted by hydrophonic at 10:37 PM on July 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


The now defunct Tevatron at Fermilab.

http://w3w.cm/powerhouse.taster.impaled
posted by MikeWarot at 10:39 PM on July 18, 2013


Searching "one two three" takes you here, while "uno dos tres" does this.
posted by klausman at 10:41 PM on July 18, 2013


I am sad that shut.down.everything isn't in Madagascar. But that does look like a good place to avoid plague.
posted by The otter lady at 10:45 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


hobbit.concentrate.frustrate is at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, the only place you can mine for diamonds in a public park. There are usually a few carats recovered each year by visitors.
posted by MikeWarot at 10:49 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


grand.central.terminal
national.portrait.gallery
grand.canyon.tour
salt.lake.city
posted by hydrophonic at 10:49 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phoenix is swap.goats.again
posted by livejamie at 10:56 PM on July 18, 2013


hovercraft.full.eels ... in Thailand? Well, why not?
posted by dhartung at 11:08 PM on July 18, 2013


burger.king.restaurant
posted by hydrophonic at 11:14 PM on July 18, 2013


This is bullshit designed to get stupid people to pay for a "oneword" location.

We couldn't find any results for really.stupid.idea

This thing can't even locate itself.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:10 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


My kitchen, front yard and back yard all have different names, none of which are connected.

Nthing the notion that the system has to be logical, not random, to have any function.
posted by jrochest at 12:16 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tehran: contour.clerics.soon

Pompeii: dent.talking.eyebrows

Istanbul: remark.rugs.cobbles

Cairo: bucks.taxpayers.steams

Dallas: brush.lawn.stud

Moscow: collects.dreams.perform

Copenhagen: channel.forecast.rock

Auschwitz: fail.cried.cities

Pyongyang: insurers.described.abacus

Fukushima: memory.soft.twilight

Atlanta: herb.revived.self

Dhaka: hatter.woodstove.pumps

Kathmandu: atlas.backpacks.unframed

Portland, OR: feel.almost.basic

San Francisco: rent.lives.summer

Singapore: forced.lives.human

Monaco: glitz.invest.merit

Brussels: even.divides.takeover
posted by threeants at 12:29 AM on July 19, 2013


I see the usefulness, sort of. It's an address. It is easy to memorise and it works for any location on the planet. Cool. But I won't use this.

For one, the algorithm should be public and open source so that this will be indefinitely useful. Right now, this is some for-profit dot-com that will, in all statistical likelihood disappear. So much for your custom printed business cards with your OneWord(tm) address.

Then, the mapping is illogical. Getting one word of the three wrong sends you across the planet. Perhaps this was intentional?

Finally, yes, it is in English. So, telling my guests how to find my bungalows in Thailand is useful as long as I don't also have to carefully spell out the English words on the phone. Better to just give them two numbers called Latitude and Longitude which work on Google maps, GPS, etc. and will still be correct 10 years from now.
posted by vacapinta at 12:33 AM on July 19, 2013


York (UK) gives me tows.puts.grapes, which happen to be three words that Northern Englanders can say about 15 different ways apiece. So that's fun and useful.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:11 AM on July 19, 2013


Oh this is fun. I've just finished moving out, so I don't mind telling you that I lived in denoting.dabbled.craters (though my bedroom was nearly.welcome.foreheads), and I spent a good bit of time at the local bar thundered.treat.ears.
posted by solotoro at 3:09 AM on July 19, 2013


Ok, I'm just annoyed that they offer both a US EN and a UK EN version of the site and they can't be assed/arsed to changed the metres to meters and wilst to while.
posted by drlith at 3:39 AM on July 19, 2013


Now if only someone could come up with a way of converting the pesky digits of internet time to words...
posted by Hogshead at 5:26 AM on July 19, 2013


Look, I'm not saying this thing is creepy at all, but I just checked the front yard of our old house and it gave me back 'wants.insertion.landlady'. When I shifted onto the house to about where our master bedroom was, I got back 'shimmering.poke.tent' so I think I'm done with this for now.

For now.

(points to both eyes, then points at what3words)
posted by jquinby at 5:28 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are dozens of what.three.word for my front yard. I guess I'll have to buy them all to prevent cyberbullies from labeling my front yard with something offensive.
posted by surplus at 5:45 AM on July 19, 2013


meh.not.impressed
posted by orme at 5:50 AM on July 19, 2013


toxic.truth.silver - Red Gate Woods, where Chicago Piles 2 and 3 are buried in the worlds only public park / nuclear waste dump.
posted by MikeWarot at 5:56 AM on July 19, 2013


Almost an interesting attempt to collect rent of some sort (tl;dr the website to see how they want to make money off this) on a resource they can't even make artificially scarce. Seems like the product of a mildly tech-savvy marketing geek getting high and suddenly realizing that numbers can also be pointers into lists of arbitrary things, like omg.

But looking for Freudian truth in the map (which is easy, because every locality seems to have a few hundred of these strings) seems to be a fun game. So you kids have a great time on my lawn.
posted by Vetinari at 6:01 AM on July 19, 2013


Might be marginally useful as a band name generator.
posted by Philofacts at 6:22 AM on July 19, 2013


They took bases, and changed them to numbers to words, and then used them to define coordinates.

Cute, but useless.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:26 AM on July 19, 2013


badger.badger.badger badger.mushroom.mushroom
badger.badger.badger badger.badger.snake
posted by bluesapphires at 6:29 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


PipRuss: "quirky names for places that already have names. Which is new and interesting. It might help some people who have difficulty memorizing street names, numbers, zip codes and the like,"

I have a hard time memorizing street names, numbers, zip codes and the like. The idea of finding things via a new quirky naming scheme with no context sounds like something out of a nightmare.
posted by desuetude at 7:10 AM on July 19, 2013


If you search for Toronto it drops a marker at City Hall and names it "weekday.jogging.helps," which is kind of funny.

I centred the arrow over what should be Rob Ford's office, and found he -- who has insisted the video of him smoking a crack pipe pipe is a fake -- works at examiner.scam.photos; however, that was using the map. Using the aerial view, he looks to be more at bulges.prompt.circles, which could refer to any number of things.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:20 AM on July 19, 2013


And a quick survey of Dealey Plaza in Dallas suggests that President Kennedy was shot at talked.bright.memory, which seems culturally apropos in several ways.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2013


My house is leave.this.goats

Maybe because I need to mow the lawn?
posted by maurice at 8:49 AM on July 19, 2013


i don't get it. nothing for

jam.spew.jamb
sew.my.nuts
ouch.that.hurts
help i'm dying
go fuck yourself
hold my nutsack
junior bacon cheeseburger
great.blue.beagle
simple stupid man

...

what 3 words am i supposed to search for ...?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:04 AM on July 19, 2013


Yeah, this is just really not useful in its current form. I get what they are aiming at by trying to replace numbers with words to make locations more conversationally usable, but numbers work for a reason. They are systematic, if you know how to get to 123 Sesame St. you know how to get to 124, 223, or 666 Sesame St. Numbers in addresses are useful because there is a system to it.

In order for this to have any utility at all it needs to be systematic as well, knowing where sesame.oscar.garbagecan is should give you insight into where sesame.oscar.pancakes is.

The system as is just feels like 3 random words. First off, it is a coordinate system, so it isn't really great for addresses or area code style locating, it's more akin to latitude/longitude. The commenters suggesting it could be used for geocaching seem right on, this really is the best use case scenario I can see for this. So let's take a page from lat/long's book and use two word coordinates instead of three, maybe an adjective for latitude and a noun for longitude. That way locations sound like "I live at stinky.cheese" or "Meet me at grumpy.suitcase." The words also need to be sorted in some way. Perhaps alphabetically could work, with A words starting at the north pole and Z words at the equator or south pole. This way when you see dangerous.grandpa you know that dangly.grass is in the neighborhood.

I mean seriously, as far as creating global locating schemes go this is really just amateur hour work here.
posted by cirrostratus at 9:11 AM on July 19, 2013


This has got to be the dumbest internet idea I’ve ever seen. So much so that I don’t believe it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a joke or a con of some sort, but more likely some sort of study.
posted by bongo_x at 9:14 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


sesame.oscar.garbagecan is should give you insight into where sesame.oscar.pancakes

Screw that. I do not want your special "oscar pancakes." Please show me where to find sesame.cookie.monster?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:16 AM on July 19, 2013


"We couldn't find any results for clown.penis.fart" what a missed opportunity
posted by chowflap at 10:26 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oddly enough, my kitchen is located at overlook.kitchen.explain and I haven't been doing much cooking lately.
posted by Gotanda at 6:46 PM on July 19, 2013


llama.llama.duck
posted by elmer benson at 1:15 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


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