Poetry in Motion: OpenStreetMap Haiku Website Writes Poems Based on Location

We tried it and got a verse that said "You are what you eat." But what could it possibly mean?
Loukia Papadopoulos

Developers Satellite Studio has come up with an ingenious new project using the OpenStreetMap database to create poetry. Called OpenStreetMap Haiku, the website produces haikus based on locations.

Automated haikus

"Here's what's happening: we automated making haikus about places. Looking at every aspect of the surroundings of a point, we can generate a poem about any place in the world. The result is sometimes fun, often weird, most of the time pretty terrible. Also probably horrifying for haiku purists (sorry)," says the project's page.

If you are wondering why they undertook such an endeavor, the team of designers says it is simply because they can. They also claim to have been inspired by a project by Naho Matsuda called "everything every time."


"Her work aims at creating "impractical poetry" from a variety of data streams and sensors across the city: air quality, traffic, shift schedules, mosque prayers, etc. The result is then displayed in real-time in the city streets. We've always been totally fascinated by the project, which at the time seemed a refreshing take, slightly impertinent, on the whole, "smart cities" schtick," write the developers.

However, Satelite Studio aimed much higher, wanting to create a global version of Matuda's work. They also wanted to explore toying with OpenStreetMap data.

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You are what you eat

The designers further explain that the "verses are randomly assembled collecting information about a place, taken from OpenStreetMap." We tried the website ourselves and got an interesting haiku that said: "You are what you eat."

We can't help but wonder what data led to that saying. Of course, that's not the only haiku we got. Just moving your mouse a bit gets you a whole new wacky haiku. We could play with this map for hours.

As an added bonus the project takes into account the weather and local time of the day. That's it, we are hooked!

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