Simon Weckert walked the streets pulling a red wagon behind him. Wherever he roamed, Google Maps displayed a congested traffic jam.
Persons utilizing Google Maps would see a dense red line indicating over-crowding on the road, even when no traffic was there at all. Every single one of the 99 cellphones had the Google Maps app open, giving the virtual delusion that the streets were jam-packed. “By transporting the smartphones in the street I’m able to generate virtual traffic which will navigate cars on another route,” Weckert said in a DM on Twitter. “Ironically that can generate a real traffic jam somewhere else in the city.”
Weckert explained that he did the art/hack induction to get people to ponder about the everyday data we rely on and the headroom we give to cars. “Isn’t it crazy [how] much space is used by a car in a city compared to the usage?” Weckert stated. “The hack shows us what is possible with this technology and who we rely on.” To pull off the feat, he rented 99 smartphones, each of them Android devices, and bought 99 sims cards online for them.
He said he’d spend 60-120 minutes on each spot, strolling back and forth on the street to create a traffic jam. “My subjective feeling was that even this short time was already enough to change the traffic in the street,” Weckert expressed. “‘The map is not the territory … but another version of reality. 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.”
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