When I meet VeloViewer users out and about, the enjoyment of ticking off VeloViewer Explorer Tiles is the most common feedback I get. Since I came up with the idea of Explorer Tiles back in 2015 1000’s of VeloViewer users have been discovering new roads and trails close to where they live and further afield. A global heatmap of the ticked tiles has been on my to-do list since 2015 so it is embarrassing that it has taken so long to make it a reality! But wait no longer.
In August I was contacted by Karl Andersson, an MA student of Visual and Media Anthropology at Freie Unviversität Berlin who was doing a project on the VeloViewer Explorer functionality along with how and why people use it. The link to his survey was shared and many of the most devoted Explorers responded. Karl has now published his findings and also produced a lovely video compiled from interviews carried out with a couple of the Explorers.
Since the introduction of the Explorer Score and Explorer Max Square there have been requests for some sort of metric to represent the maximum number of connected Explorer tiles. The recent improvement in the calculation of completed Explorer tiles sparked a very active discussion which resulted in the refinement of the concept and the creation of the Explorer Cluster. The Explorer Max Square provides a hard-core challenge but can be tricky for people who live in geographically challenging areas or have key tiles which are completely inaccessible. This is where the Explorer Cluster looks to provided a more level playing field.
The way that completed Explorer tiles are calculated has remained pretty static since its inception in March 2015 which included some, less than precise code to try to get around some of its known limitations (detailed below). I’ve now refined that code to improve the accuracy and also speed up the processing quite considerably and also introduced a method to get a definitive list of tiles for an Activity. This improved accuracy will of course result in a number of tiles that were previously marked as ticked now showing up as unticked (and potentially affecting your max square size) but only tiles that you never actually visited in the first place 🙂
The Explorer Max Square leaderboard has brought together a small but remarkably dedicated international community of riders taking in new roads and trails at every opportunity in order to increase their Explorer Max Square. What drives them to ride across frozen lakes, attempt to access military bases and buy opera tickets to tick off map squares? Let’s ask them!
The VeloViewer Explorer Score and more specifically the Explorer Max Square has acquired a bit of a cult following since its introduction to the site back in March 2015 despite me not having fully explaining what it is all about until now! The Explorer Score rewards those people who explore new roads/trails rather doing the same old loops. Providing non-performance based motivations has always been one of the main goals of VeloViewer and this one really looks to tick that box.