Writing Assignment 2: Waze and Crowdsourcing

Waze is a successful crowdsourced app that offers drivers directions for the quickest route based upon traffic, accidents, and tolls. The project is a perfect example of the power of crowdsourcing; it uses the information from its driving users to create better routes for other users about to hit the road. The mobile app measures drivers’ speeds and asks drivers to report road closures and accidents. Unlike other GPS-only navigation software, Waze considers its users as an integral part of the navigation process. This innovation has changed the way people drive and is a good insight into the unlimited potential of crowdsourced projects.

In 2006, Ehud Shabtai founded the community project “FreeMap Israel,” which aimed to develop “a free digital database of the map of Israel in Hebrew” using crowdsourced information from the community of users in Israel (Wikipedia). Shabtai wanted to make the database easy-to-use and free to the public, while also updating it as often as possible to ensure relevancy (Wikipedia). Like many of the digital humanities projects we have studied in class, “FreeMap Israel” aimed to digitally preserve a set of information and make that information easily accessible to its audience. After seeing the project’s potential, Shabtai decided to commercialize the efforts and formed Waze Mobile Ltd in 2009 (Wikipedia). In 2013, Google bought out Waze for $1.1 billion, which immediately pushed the mobile app into the public’s eye (Myers). Since then, the software has found a home on smartphones around the world, using the data from those smartphones to improve traffic patterns and to shorten commutes. The digital project follows along well with Timothy W. Cole’s “Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections,” in which he states that projects must “give high priority to factors such as reusability, persistence, [and] interoperability…” (Cole). Waze is used and reused by people for navigation assistance while driving; people can reuse it endlessly without paying a fee. The app also persistently collects traffic-related data and exchanges information between users’ smartphones. These characteristics indicate a that Waze is a strong digital collection and digital humanities project.

As Todd Presner states, impact can be measured by the “number of viewers or contributors to a site and what they contribute” (Presner). In the case of Waze, the viewers are the contributors and vice versa, and the contributions these users make are essential to the existence of the app. Waze is just one example of the endless number of crowdsourced projects on the web. This approach to a digital humanities project is the most effective in engaging the public and attaining real-time information from people around the globe.

Works Cited

Cole, Timothy W. “Creating a Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections.” First Monday 7, no. 5 (May 2002). doi:10.5210/fm.v7i5.955.

Myers, Anthony. “How Waze Grew from Startup to Billion Dollar Google Acquisition #demo2013.” CMS Wire. Last modified October 16, 2013. http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/how-waze-grew-from-startup-to-billion-dollar-google-acquisition-demo2013-022835.php.

Presner, Todd. “How to Evaluate Digital Scholarship.” Journal of Digital Humanities 1, no. 4 (Fall 2012). http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-4/how-to-evaluate-digital-scholarship-by-todd-presner/.

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. “Waze – Wikipedia.” n.d. Accessed February 12, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waze.