Category : Discovery

Waze – Map data collection with an exploration game approach

While projects like Google Building Maker or Google Map Maker enable people to contribute bricks for Google’s Digital Earth, other tools like a new Points of Interest Collector facilitate map data collection for the Open Street Map project. Hey, there is probably nothing wrong with people working on different map data silos – may not be ideal and may take twice as long, but maybe there is something else to map making than commercially motivated backgrounds – for whatever commercial reasons that may be. Most often, because no one really wants to pay for map data, right?

So it is quite interesting to see yet another approach to crowdsourced map-building. Waze, which labels itself as a „social mobile application“ provides free of charge turn by turn navigation based on data that Wazers have already collected and are collecting right now. Starting from a blank map, the road network and Points of Interest are growing minute by minute as people contribute their traits and mappings. The Waze map emerges. I have yet to try this myself, but it must almost feel like the early days of the Open Street Map project. I am not sure about the initial idea and motivation behind Waze – but I enjoyed reading this bit on the Waze blog„In fact, in certain countries with no base map, users will literally be building maps from scratch – paving the roads entirely themselves, as they drive…“

To me that sounds like a call for wakening the explorer inside ourselves. And it works. I do feel like going out exploring today! Maybe not so much on the road – but wouldn’t it be great to waze the Great Outdoors? Map the trails you have walked, the walls you have climbed, the streams you have mastered and the slopes you have skied. Make it an exploration game – creating your personal Digital Earth. Your private universe.

Imagine, having your personal discovery map – a map that basically puts you back in time to give you a terra incognita experience, but customised for the 21st century. The map would just show the roads and tracks that you have already explored solely by yourself. Personal exploration by direct experience that is. No virtual exploration and discovery tools like Google Earth or Bing Maps allowed. In fact, these virtual globes should be banned since they take away all the fun of direct personal exploration if you can’t resist having a look. Statistics would provide your total life-kilometres, a spatio-temporal lifeline and your personal exploration road and track network. Boldly going where …. you have not been before.

Serendipitous discoveries – Penang Tropical Fruit Farm

According to Wikipedia, serendipitous discoveries can be described as discoveries, where someone „…accidentally discovers something fortunate…“ Well, this is exactly, what happend to us on a day trip on Penang – in fact, twice it did. We were actually heading north to Taman Negara Pulau Pinang National Park, when we saw a Tropical Fruit Farmsign on the side of the road. On the spur of the moment, we decided to take the turn and have a look. It is often difficult to precisely pin down what triggers your decisions in such moments – maybe you just did not have enough food for breakfast? Maybe you always wanted to find out what the heck a tropical fruit farm has to offer – subconsciously at least. Whatever it was -the next moment, we parked our rental car and a person, who turned out to be the manager of the farm, was already explaining to us that we just needed to get two tickets for RM 25 and we would be shown around on a guided tour with a fruit buffet and a freshly squeezed fruit juice included at the end of the tour. Initially, we felt a little bit pushed and weren’t quite sure whether this was worth doing, but then we decided to get the tickets and find out more about all the tropical fruits that apparently grew around the place. Of course, we also thought that even if the tour didn’t turn out to be any good, we could still feast on the fruit. Deal.

Together with a few other people, we got into a van and drove up the farm road. The driving seemed a bit pointless, since we got off just a few hundred meters up the hill – Anyway, our guide started to show us some fruit that grew next to road – Mango tress, Banana trees, Jackfruit and he provided a wealth of information about how, when and where they grow and what is special about them.

Banana Tree


Dragon Fruit



We continued walking around a bit and every few meters there was another species of fruit to be discovered and learned about. The guide explained everything in a really entertaining way and we very much enjoyed our outdoor fruit seminar.

Dragon Fruit Plant

Fruit Farm

„Any fresher, you have to squeeze it yourself“

Then we got to the feeding part. There was a huge fruit table – and straigt away, we knew that the next hour or so would simply be awesome. So we took a few pieces of fruit from each of the fruit plates, piled them up on our own plate, and then started digging into.

Fruit Plate

It is difficult to describe how good and healthy it feels munching fruits – many of them you have never even heard of before, let alone tasted them. And then, here it was – the second serendipitous discovery of the day – obviously a consequence of the first one – the fruit farm itself. I have never ever tasted anything like it before. Lúcama – or also called „eggfruit“ – a more descriptive English name for what I reckon must be the most tasty fruit on this planet. I immediately found myself focusing fully on the eggfruit plate and after the plate was refilled for the third time, I started to feel a little bit guilty. I felt even more guilty after we asked about buying some of the eggfruit to take away and were told that they don’t actually sell them because there are only a few trees on the fruit farm – and that’s about the only place in Malaysia that you actually find the fruit at all. Still feeling guilty, I also thought that this is almost unbelievable – something that tastes so nice and you can’t really get it – at least not that easily as it seemed. Since I only managed to take a photograph of the nicely cut fruit, you might want to have a look at the whole fruit on the following site, which also provides eggfruit nutrition fact.