Weckert’s description of the project says he wanted to draw attention to just how dependent we’ve become on services like Maps. Citing apps like Airbnb, Uber and Foodora, he wrote: “All of these apps function via interfaces with Google Maps and create new forms of digital capitalism and commodification. Without these maps, car sharing systems, new taxi apps, bike rental systems and online transport agency services such as ‘Uber’ would be unthinkable.”
To its credit, Google took the “hack” in stride and told 9to5Google it would use the art project to make the app better. “Whether via car or cart or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps as it helps us make maps work better over time,” a spokesperson for the company said. They also noted that the company doesn’t exclusively use phones operating Maps as proof of a traffic jam, instead it relies on multiple sources. So don’t expect many copycats.