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A Place of Great Inspiration

Hope Valley Fringe Festival and The What3words app.

Hope Valley

Earlier this year I was approached by the organisers of the Hope Valley Fringe festival and asked to help with the literature part of the Hope Valley Fringe by organising and judging a Haiku Competition with a difference. The Hope Valley is a place of great beauty set on the cusp of the Dark and the White Peak District in North Derbyshire so you can imagine I was very excited to be asked to be a part of this festival.

There are two main themes to the festival: promoting our relationship with Earth and the What3words concept. If you have not heard of the What3word concept, here is a bit of background.

It was originally conceived by Chris Sheldrick, who, when working as a concert organiser, struggled to get equipment and bands to event locations on time due to inadequate addressing. A postcode is a very efficient way of finding a building but not so good at locating somewhere in the middle of a field. Chris Sheldrick founded What3words along with Jack Waley-Cohen, Mohan Ganesalingam, and Michael Dent and it was launched in July 2013.

Statue of Liberty

A brief definition of What3words is that it is a geocoding system for the communication of worldwide locations with a resolution of three meters into three dictionary words. For example, the torch of the Statue of Liberty is located at "toned.melt.ship". As the system is algorithmic it works with no data connection and is permanently fixed and unchangeable.

Some interesting facts about What3words:

Each What3words language, including Russian and Turkish, uses a wordlist of 25,000 words (40,000 in English, as it covers the sea as well as land). The only slight disadvantage of the grid is that it is two-dimensional, so it does not distinguish between floors in a building.

Some users of the What3words grid are:

Land Rover – Off-road driving

Red Cross – Disaster relief

Pocket Earth – Offline navigation app

Metcom – Fire hydrant management in Colorado

Dominoes – Tracking delivery

Apparently there have been some parody sites created, including 'What2numbers', which uses latitude and longitude, and What3ducks. These rebel against What3word's proprietary nature. What3ducks made me smile.

As a writer I found the What3words concept intriguing. I looked on the Hope Valley Fringe Festival website to try and find out more and found this blog:

I quote Simon Homfrey:

The first thing you may notice is a tendency to make up stories from the 3 words.

We are having our natural creativity tickled, our sense of fun is triggered and a whole new human response to tech is set off in the form of asking questions, looking for patterns and seeking meaning which we, deep down, know is probably not there, but we feel compelled to search for.

The second observation that plays out, is that against all rational probability there always seems to be a square with meaning, a square with relevant words to the place we are looking at on the what3words map.

I had the same reaction. I really loved searching out pertinent locations and seeing if their three words bore any relevance for me to the place. How as a writer could I incorporate this idea into a project?

My contribution to the festival will be to run a Haiku Competition with a twist. I will engage people with the What3word concept by asking them to incorporate a 3-word location into their Haiku. They will pick a 3-meter square in the Hope Valley on the What3word app and using those three words incorporate them into a Haiku.

If you don’t know, a Haiku is a poem with a very simple form and usually describes the natural world. A haiku has a few basic principles. If you want to learn more please see my blog on Writing a Haiku incorporating the What3word concept.


Got any questions or thoughts about the Hope Valley Fringe Haiku Competition? Get in touch with me via Twitter, or message me here.

Enter the Hope Valley Fringe Haiku Competition here.

See more about the Hope Valley Fringe Festival here.

Find out more about What3words here.

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