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>What makes this better than actual coordinates? I can easily find numeric coordinates on a map, ...

It may be "better" and more optimized for a particular purpose: human memorization

It has a similar mnemonic strategy to other memorization techniques for numbers.[1] Apparently, there's something special about the language processing of the brain that makes it easier to remember words than numeric sequences. Phone-number-to-words (vanity phone #) is another example.[2][3]

For other tasks you mentioned such as mathematical calculation/comparison, or computer lookup in db indexes, the encoding is definitely not optimized for that. However, that's not its purpose.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mnemonic_major_system

[2]http://lifehacker.com/201752/spell-your-phone-number

[3]http://hello-operator.softwareadvice.com/want-memorable-toll...




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