Notes: Waze, Kaepernick



WAZE – Heads Above All The Other GPS Apps

I began travelling into Denver on a regular basis a few months ago for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes I am in heavy traffic.  Due to a Wall Street Journal article I installed Waze over a year ago on my iPhone, but had not really used it in preference to built in GPS systems in our cars and Mapquest.  For whatever reason, I tried Waze and I am never going back.

Waze crowd sources traffic data from other drivers along your route.  I am constantly amazed at the number of alerts on obstacles in the road, cars in the shoulder, and most importantly traffic.  If you are approaching traffic, you do not just get some vague warning about traffic, but exactly where it is and how long you can expect to be in it.  If there is an obstacle in the road you get a voice warning about how far to it.  And it is accurate, which has been the main problem for me on other systems.

Quite a few GPS routing systems will re-route you, but I have never seen anything like Waze.  Coming back from downtown Denver in the worst rush hour traffic, it diverted me off main roads into a labyrinth of neighborhood roads, then onto main arteries, back onto neighborhood roads, out to Denver’s airport via the access road, then onto the toll road to Boulder.  A drive I expected to take an hour and half took 40 minutes.

The routing algorithm is orders of magnitude more powerful than Mapquest, Google, or any other system I have used over the years.  The algorithm combined with the power of the crowd sourced data from real drivers yields a revolutionary product.  Think the difference between MySpace and Facebook in social media or Yahoo! and Google in search.

Amazing product.

Colin Kaepernick

The First Amendment guarantees to San Francisco Forty-Niners backup quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, the right to sit during the Star Spangled Banner at NFL games and to wear socks depicting police officers as pigs without government arrest or sanction.  And the NFL in a somewhat surprising show of civics allows it employees to express that opinion without sanction. Many US employers I believe would have fired him.  The First Amendment does not restrict employers in this and most contexts.  And the rest of us are free to form our own opinions.

And I have to admit my own prejudice that I am concerned about police violence in many of the cases so often in the media.  Last summer in particular there was way too much video of people of color being shot or killed in unjustified or avoidable circumstances. I also believe we need to revisit the 1990s crime bill and incarceration. This does not lessen my respect for law enforcement as a whole or answer the many questions I have about the Black Lives Matter movement.

But, Kaepernick has a basic obligation that he has failed. When you take up a cause you have an obligation to advance it.  And in picking the wrong marketing platform (the national anthem and flag), he has setback the cause of racial justice.  When you work in marketing, you are trying to prepare clients or an audience for a message of change.  In business, your sales people go in on the back of the marketing message to sell products.

If your salespeople report back that your customers are pissed off and will never buy your products, then you have failed in your message.  And the pitiful level of support for a man kneeling surrounded by decorated heroes in the midst of a ceremony publicly announced to honor those heroes makes clear that Kaepernick has failed. He is either not that smart, incapable of admitting his own mistake, or only cares about himself and not his cause.

So, Mr. Kaepernick publicly apologize, lose the “cop pig” socks, and volunteer in a voter registration drive or an inner city homeless shelter.  Actually do something to support criminal justice reform, not set it back.



  1. On Kaepernick’s protest, while we can differ over the message and how he has delivered it, in a very real sense he rekindled it. Whereas in the past it was a hot topic only when someone captured a death on video, Kaepernick has gotten a lot of people talking about the issue again with a death or the passionate response such an event can cause. Perhaps he took a page from the Trump playbook – be as outrageous as you dare and the media will make a spectacle of it: no such thing as bad press.

    For my part, whether he stands for the National Anthem or not, and whatever socks he wears, don’t matter a whit to me. However, I am glad to have the issue to police violence (or the perception of it) kept on the table so we can process it in a rational way.

    • Vince, I’m not aware of any meaningful conversation that he has sparked. No movement on legislation, no movement on Congressional or Presidential action like a commission. He’s done nothing in support of racial justice other than write a check, the usual refugee of people who know they’ve f-upped. He’s gotten virtually no support for his cause from fellow players or the NFL other than his first amendment right. He’s now sparking counter protests, which is not helpful. He’s set back the cause of racial justice. I look forward to him finishing his career in the CFL north of the border.

  2. John, Kaepernick’s protest has garnered growing support from NFL players (and many others) as well as a supportive comment from President Obama. While much of the discussion so far is on the appropriateness of Kap’s peaceful protest, the fact that he is getting more support will lead to more discussion of the issues that inspire the protest. As one writer puts it:

    “In many ways, Kaepernick has chosen the perfect forum for drawing attention to America’s problems with racial inequality. No major American professional league drapes itself in overwrought patriotism more than the NFL, and no other league – the NBA aside – is as dominated by African American athletes.” – Les Carpenter, The Guardian, Sept 9, 2016

    In ’68, Tommie Smith and John Carlos were roundly criticized for their “black power salute” on the Olympic podium but it raised awareness. Here, time will tell whether a substantive discussion of the race issue develops from this but at least many Americans who don’t think much about it are seeing how important it is to many other Americans. (The first amendment arguments are also healthy.)


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