Man Creates Virtual Traffic Jam On Google Maps By Carrying Around 99 Phones
For those of us who are distinctly lacking in navigational skills, Google Maps can be a godsend.
But one bloke in Germany has meddled with the invaluable tool by carrying around 99 phones and creating virtual traffic jams.
Simon Weckert made it seem as though the streets were gridlocked in Berlin by dragging along a wagon of phones, all of which were using the app, creating a red line and giving the impression that traffic was heavy wherever he went.
Speaking to VICE, he said: "By transporting the smartphones in the street I'm able to generate virtual traffic which will navigate cars on another route.
"Ironically that can generate a real traffic jam somewhere else in the city."
In order to pull off his plan, Simon had to rent 99 phones and buy 99 SIM cards online. He then spent a couple of hours on each street, walking backwards and forwards with his phone wagon until illusory gridlock was created on the app.
So, who is this phone wheelbarrow man and why is he devoting his time to creating virtual traffic jams?
Well, he's an artist and his objective was to make us all think about and scrutinise the data we rely upon everyday.
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He said: "The hack shows us what is possible with this technology and who we rely on.
"Data is always translated to what they might be presented. The images, lists, graphs, and maps that represent those data are all interpretations, and there is no such thing as neutral data. Data is always collected for a specific purpose, by a combination of people, technology, money, commerce, and government.
"Maps have the potential as an instrument of power. They substitute political and military power in a way that represents the state borders between territories and they can repeat, legitimate, and construct the differences of classes and social self-understandings."
He makes an interesting point, though I'm not sure how well this justification would go down with someone who has taken a detour to avoid an imaginary traffic jam.
Simon said: "In this process it is pointing out the fact that we are highly focused on the data and tent to see them as objective, unambiguous, and interpretation free.
"In doing so, a blindness arises against the processes that data generates and the assumption that numbers speak for themselves. Not only the collection of data provides an interpretative scope, but also computing processes allows further interpretations.
"Thus data are viewed as the world itself, forgetting that the numbers are only representing a model of the world."
So remember folks, don't go blindly trusting Google Maps like a damn fool - there may well be a bloke carrying around 99 phones messing with the data.
Featured Image Credit: Simon Weckert