Geohashing

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Geohashing /ˈˌhæʃɪŋ/ is an outdoor recreational activity inspired by the xkcd webcomic, in which participants have to reach a random location (chosen by a computer algorithm), prove their achievement by taking a picture of a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or another mobile device and then tell the story of their trip online. Proof based on non-electronic navigation is also acceptable.

Whereas other outdoor recreational activities like geocaching have a precise goal, geohashing is mainly fueled by its pointlessness, which is deemed funny by its players. The resulting geohashing community and culture is thus extremely tongue-in-cheek, supporting any kind of humorous behavior during the practice of geohashing and resulting in a parody of traditional outdoor activities. Navigating to a random point need not be pointless. Some geohashers document new mapping features features they find on the OpenStreetMap project.[1]

History[edit]

On May 21, 2008, the 426th xkcd comic was published. Titled "Geohashing", it described a way for a computer to create an algorithm that could generate random Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates each day based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the current date.[2] The algorithm was quickly seized by xkcd community, which used it as intended by xkcd creator Randall Munroe.[3]

Originally a stub where people willing to try the algorithm in real life were to issue their reports, the geohashing official wiki expanded in the following weeks and was a working website as early as June 2008.[4] The current expedition protocol was then established during the following years, with the creation of humorous awards, regional meetups and a hall of amazingness for the various geohasher achievements.[5]

Over time, geohashing gained fame across the internet and now counts more than 10,000 expedition reports.[6] 19,000 users are registered on the geohashing wiki, with only 65 active as of June 2, 2015.[7] Geohashing has spread mostly in North America, Europe and Australia.[8]

Geohash[edit]

The sign forbids a geohasher to trespass and reach the location set by the algorithm. His expedition has to end there.

Geohashing divides the earth into a grid made up of graticules which are one degree wide in latitude and longitude. Inside these graticules, a random location is set each day thanks to xkcd's algorithm. Geohashers then have the opportunity to go at the chosen location, either inside their own graticule or in a nearby one. If the location is inaccessible or in a private area, geohashers are advised not to try to reach it, although obviously inaccessible locations have been reached several times. In addition to the repeating location in each graticule, each day there is a single global hashpoint, much more challenging to reach.[9]

See also[edit]

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