Monday, April 11, 2016

Flâneur Poetry with What3Words

These days we allow computers to control out houses, drive our cars and beat us at chess and Go. It shouldn't be any surprise then that they have now become our poets as well. Welcome to the age of self-driving cars and automated wandering bards.

Sauntering Verse is a new location based computer generated poetry generator. Open up Sauntering Verse in your mobile device and go for a walk. Sauntering Verse will then compose a unique poem as you wander through the world.

At the heart of Sauntering Verse is the What3Words location addressing system. What3Words turns geographic coordinates into three word addresses. Every location in the world has a three word address that you can use to share your location. For example, if I tell you I'm currently at 'Joke, Pretty, Dated', all you have to do is append those three words to the what3words URL ( and you can view a map of my location to within a few feet of accuracy.

Sauntering Verse uses these three word addresses to automatically generate a poem based on your location. You can create a short poem by just sharing your current location with Sauntering Verse. However, if you actually go for a walk the application will create more diverse poems as you continue to add more What3Word addresses to the application.

Sauntering Verse isn't the first application to use the What3Words addressing system to help create poems. what3words Poetry is almost Sauntering Verse in reverse. Where Sauntering Verse creates a poem from your mapped location, what3words Poetry maps your poetry based on the locations of words you use in the What3Words addressing system.

what3words Poetry starts you off with a random three word map address as the first three words of a poem. The last two words are then used to create the first two words of the next line of the poem.

Your task is to provide the third word of the second line of the poem. When you enter the word the three words of the second line of your poem is then used as a What3Words address and you are shown that location on a Google Map. You can continue in this manner adding a word to every line and receiving another new location on your Google Map.

This sounds far more complicated than it actually is. In fact it is very simple to use. It is also pretty good fun. Here's a poem that I created (you can see the map it creates above),

  unlikely ants trilogy
  ants trilogy reread
  trilogy reread twice

My poem isn't going to win any literary prizes. Why not see if you can do better.

You can read more about the what3words Poetry map, including a link to a whole tumblr blog on what3words inspired poetry, on Darren Wien's Blog, Darren's Side Projects.

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