Creator of Attackpoint, Ken Walker Jr.
The site that gets its name from the technique of finding a secure entryway into a control has grown into a meeting place for orienteers from all around the world. Although mainly housing North Americans and Australians in the discussions you can find training logs from all around the world on the site. So let's get to know Ken, the creator of Attackpoint.
Tell us about yourself...
I live outside of Washington, DC. I have been orienteering since around 1993. I raced on the US team at JWOC from 1996–98 and at WOC in 2001, 2011, and 2015.
How did you come up with the idea for Attackpoint?
In early 2000, I wanted to create something cool to highlight the sporty aspect of orienteering. At the time there weren’t many resources on the web for advanced competitors.
Initially, race split times were the core feature at Attackpoint. Before electronic punching was widespread, runners used to stand around after races and review their times for each leg of the course from their watches. Back then it was pretty much the only chance to get an idea of how much time you lost on that mistake or gained on some route choice. Of course, you mostly forgot the details, that is if you didn’t miss out entirely due to leaving early, doing your cool-down, getting rained on, or whatever. A few times I saw email chains where people would send out their splits to friends, who would then reply-all with theirs, etc, but that never worked especially well. Attackpoint fixed this by providing a centralized place to share splits, and also taking care of some analysis math you might not want to do in your head.
Not long after, I added training logs. These evolved from a simple weekly mileage log that I had created for my old USA junior-team website. While that log only allowed people to enter the sum of their miles for each week, I noticed that some people were updating their totals every day. Clearly, there was an interest in sharing much more detailed logs. Keep in mind this was a relatively novel idea back before blogs, myspace, facebook, or other user-generated content on the web.
Is there anything that you are especially proud of?
I usually get a kick out of seeing people introduce themselves in real life by their AP usernames. That is kind of the tip of the iceberg, but it is really cool to be such a big part of athletes’ lives.
Any other project you would like to share?
I am pretty active in orienteering photography. That actually started because I wanted to have my own stock images for use on Attackpoint and social media, but more than anything I enjoy the art and story-telling aspects of it now. You can see some collections here: https://kenjrwalker.smugmug.com/
How do you see design fitting into the future of orienteering?
If we are talking distant-future, I wonder when we will see elite navigation competitions without paper maps, and what that would look like? Will that still be orienteering?
What is the next thing you see that the orienteering community needs to tackle?
With more and more distractions available these days, it is a constant battle to stay relevant and retain (if not gain) participants. Perhaps separately, I think there is a lot of opportunities to improve live/replay coverage of orienteering, and design is a huge part of that.
What do you when not orienteering?
I’m a professional software engineer. Among other areas, I have been involved with web/mobile/smart-tv app interface design, sensor fusion, motion analysis, augmented reality, and robotic navigation projects.
A big thank you to Ken Walker Jr. for answering our questions!
Start logging your training & join the conversation at www.attackpoint.org