A Place of Great Inspiration

How I was Inspired to Organise a Haiku Competition Around the What3words Concept

Posted by Bryony Doran on Mar 15, 2018

A Place of Inspiration

I am a freelance writer and poet, living in a terrace house in Crookes, Sheffield, high above the snow line. I love many aspects of living in Crookes but, having been brought up in the country, I sometimes struggle with the lack of greenery and having to live in such close proximity to other people. 

I overcome this by taking frequent trips out into the country, something that is very easy to do in Sheffield, having the Peak District so close by.

Because I am self employed I am able to be flexible about when I put in the hours and one of my regular trips out is to Hathersage, which is about a twenty minute drive from my house.

            I am very lucky in that my partner, Bill Allerton, also works freelance as both a writer and Urban Tiger Radio podcaster - http://bit.ly/2mePMfW - and if we plan it right we can usually manage a trip out and actually spend some quality time together.

            I love driving over Ringinglow and seeing the open skies then, as we drop down into Hathersage, the whole of the Hope Valley spread out below us.

            We are regulars at Colman’s Deli (aka ‘Jim’s’) https://www.colemansdeli.com where the coffee and the food is to die for, and where you are made to feel part of the Hathersage community.

Even late into the year we can sit outside and feel the sun on our backs. If we have time we take a short walk around the back of the village and then return home feeling replenished and ready to start work again.

On one such visit we met Martin Spence of http://www.xoolon.com   I had often seen his van with planet Xoolon on the side and was intrigued enough to ask about it.

Martin told us about www.hopevalleyfringe.co.uk and about the What3Words concept and asked if we would like to get involved.

As a writer I found the What3words concept intriguing. I went away and did some research into the creation of the What3word concept and, thanks to Wikipedia, this is what I learnt:

What3Words is a geocoding system for the communication of 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.

            Founded by Chris Sheldrick, Jack Waley-Cohen, Mohan Ganesalingam, and Michael Dent, What3Words launched in July 2013. It was originally conceived after Sheldrick, who was working as a concert organizer, struggled to get equipment and bands to event locations on time due to inadequate addressing.

            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 What3Word grid are:

Land Rover –            Off-road driving

Red Cross –             Disaster relief

Pocket Earth –       Offline navigation app

Metcom –                 Fire hydrant management in Colorado

            Apparently there have been some parody sites created (http://bit.ly/2FryMfl) to rebel against What3Word's proprietary nature.

This one made me smile: http://what3ducks.com


After researching What3Words I decided to look at the www.hopevalleyfringe.co.uk website and read some of the blogs: This one gave me an idea:

The inexplicable science of happy coincidences

What3Words - genius, engaging, and human


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.

            My contribution to the festival would be to run a Haiku competition and engage people with the What3Word concept. A Haiku is a very simple poetic form and once you understand the principles of them (See my Blog on: Writing a Haiku) anyone young or old can write a one.  (Also, see my blog on how to use the What3word concept to write a Haiku)

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