Playing With Serendipity

Think about map tools for finding directions. You enter point “A” and “B” into Google Maps, a mobile app, your GPS, in search of the fastest (or least traffic prone) path. It’s all about getting to “B”.

An interesting new app takes a twist on that by suggesting there might be more to going from “A” to “B” in creating perhaps a less direct path, one that still gets you to “B”, but along the way introduces serendipity, discovery, a bit more of a game. It opens doors to exploring places in a way you might not have done in trying to get to the nearest coffee shop.

This is the idea of the Serendipitor

Serendipitor from mark shepard on Vimeo.

Serendipitor is an alternative navigation app for the iPhone that helps you find something by looking for something else. The app combines directions generated by a routing service (in this case, the Google Maps API) with instructions for action and movement inspired by Fluxus, Vito Acconci, and Yoko Ono, among others. Enter an origin and a destination, and the app maps a route between the two. You can increase or decrease the complexity of this route, depending how much time you have to play with. As you navigate your route, suggestions for possible actions to take at a given location appear within step-by-step directions designed to introduce small slippages and minor displacements within an otherwise optimized and efficient route. You can take photos along the way and, upon reaching your destination, send an email sharing with friends your route and the steps you took.

As described in Wired Magazine’s Gadget Lab, this idea gives maps a possible gaming layer, the sort of “gamification” of real life that is a new internet buzz term.

I can start to begin of all kinds of activities one could do with this (now I need to go to a major city where there is something to play with).