Just Because You Can Put Things On A Map Doesn't Always Mean You Should Allow Anyone To Put Things On A Map
Crowd sourcing data is a laudable approach. Crowd sourcing data and putting it one a map seems like a good idea. Crowd sourcing data and putting it on a map without any verification or checks? You might not end up with what you originally intended.
This is a lesson that Benadryl, the hay fever medication, has sadly learned the hard way. At first sight it seems innocuous enough; a hay fever relief brand teams up with the UK's Met Office to crowd source areas where there's a high pollen count.
You take that crowd sourced information and put it on a map so fellow hay fever sufferers know what to expect in their neighbourhood and with the presumed side effect that if you are a hay fever sufferer then maybe you might want to pop out and buy some Benadryl to help cope with the symptoms.
But people are ... creative and whilst you might get an accurate map of high pollen count areas you might also find that people want to be ... well let's just call it artistic.
First of all a series of map markers across Westminster, on the bank of London's River Thames seemed to spell out a word that rhymes with duck. Note that for those of you with a sensitive disposition or who are reading this at work, the screen shots below have been pixellated out for your comfort and convenience; you can click through for the NSFW versions if you so choose.
This was followed in quick succession by another word, this time rhyming with bit, appearing across London's Docklands area.
Who knows how far the creative hay fever sufferers of the United Kingdom would have taken this but it wasn't to last. Benadryl noticed this new form of map art and quickly took the social pollen count site down and it has since reappeared, though this time there seems to be some checks in place so that users can report high pollen count areas and only high pollen count areas. But whilst their developers were frantically trying to put some safeguards in place, it has to be said that Benadryl put up a temporary replacement that shows a certain sense of style and a whole lot of class.
Screen shot credits: Us vs. Them.