Is “Strava art” a misnomer?

In a recent Reddit thread, someone a tad persnickety took exception to the fact that I call my GPS doodles “Strava art.” And I quote:

This is a little pedantic perhaps, but this is “GPS-tracking art”, not “Strava art”. It has nothing to do with Strava at all. I’m a little concerned that Strava is starting to become synonymous with GPS tracking data. I read an article the other day about how cities are using “Strava data” to plan cycling paths. Well, they may have got it from Strava (without our permission I might add), but it’s data we gave them in the first place, and mostly recorded with devices like Garmins. Mini-rant over 🙂

I’m not sure for whom he speaks when he says “without our permission” and “data we gave them,” but he’s clearly a staunch advocate of “credit where credit is due.”

Fair enough. And technically, he’s right. Strava is just an application that renders GPS data from devices like Garmins as pretty red lines on a map. Even within the narrow category of GPS tracking for cycling activities, there are many other services that do the same thing* – MapMyRide, Ride with GPS and Garmin Connect, for example.

Among the cycling groups I ride with, Strava is the uncontested KOM. And let’s face it: “GPS-tracking data art” doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as “Strava art.”

In my own defence, I picked up “Strava art” from some members of my cycling club when they started using the term to describe my newfound obsession. (NB: “obsession” is their term as well. I’m still content to call it “my healthy pastime.”)

So…is “Strava art” a misnomer? I’m interested to hear other perspectives and opinions on the matter…

*By “the same thing,” I’m referring solely to the visual mapping of GPS tracking data. What differentiates these applications are their performance analysis capabilities, training tools, challenges and other features. 

About Stephen

Brand strategist and creative director by day. Hyper-competitive GPS-art obsessed cyclist most of the rest of the time.
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4 Responses to Is “Strava art” a misnomer?

  1. WallyGPX says:

    Stephen,

    Naysayers are gunna naysay, and once in a blue moon a troll out there throws a “too much time/waste of time” comment at me….which always misses. I’ve heard it all from “you’re not actually riding these” to what you’re doing isn’t “art”, and even someone who was unimpressed with my velocity. Those voices are rare, and so comical to me. I don’t let them bother me because I can assure I’m pedaling my heart out, and any attempt to berate my imagination or effort is worth a quick laugh. In addition, I make up words all the time to describe what I do. It adds to the fun. As for “Strava Art”….well, that wording has been around for a while now and is as good as a descriptor for the Strava platform as any. At the end of the day, remember that it’s the minds that seek new angles on old problems, and fresh approaches to stagnant issues that drive anything forward. Who cares if you or anyone hijacks technology meant for one purpose and morph it into their own creative vision?…I do, because it’s those people that push the collective envelope. People ask if it bothers me that others are joining the GPS art world, and I always respond with an immediate no. In fact, it thrills me to see new images made by others, and I constantly celebrate their accomplishments… especially since I have been encouraging others to do this for 5 years now. Anyways, congratulations on your recent media pick-ups and thank you for sharing what you’ve been up to. None of us practitioners “own” GPSering. From the creative mind that “sees” city grid pathways to the viewers that gawk at the efforts involved—we all “own” this fun. I’m looking forward to seeing what you, or any other GPS wielding mind pulls off next!

    Happy trails!,
    WallyGPX

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stephen says:

      Thanks, Wally, for the great reply. I so much agree: haters’ll hater, trolls’ll troll, and the vast majority of cyclists out there appreciate both the artistry and the energy that goes into our creations. People have asked if I’d be bothered if others started doing Strava art on “my canvas” in Victoria, and exactly the opposite is true. In fact, I’ve been chatting with an organization that wants to use my giraffe to kick off a local Strava art competition, and I’m thrilled by the prospect. I’ll get behind anything that gets people excited about cycling and creativity – two things that drive and inspire me.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well without a platform to display the GPS tracking data, it isn’t art! I guess it’s no different to calling a vacuum cleaner a Hoover, sealed air packaging Bubble Wrap or using the phrase Jet Ski because it sounds better than personal water craft…

    Strava Art is is! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: GPS Art for Art’s Sake | Sketchbook of a Strava Artist

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