cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Last August when I was travleing across Canada, Giulia Forsythe and I went searching in Toronto for the location of the one dead drop located there. Dead drops are in many ways akin to the Piratebox, publicly placed peer to peer file sharing approaches using a rather simple mechanism, USB drives embedded into a wall, like above, with only the business end sticking out.

The one we tried to find was no longer there, and after having place one already in Fort Erie, we went back to Toronto yesterday with a thumb drive and some patch compound to restore the one off of Front Street- see a video of our effort

Berlin artist Aram Bartholl started the “˜Dead Drops’ project during his 2010 visit to New York City (I mistakenly said 2011 in the video) and over 850 drops, all over the world, are listed in the database:

“˜Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. Everyone is invited to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data. Each dead drop is installed empty except a readme.txt file explaining the project.

If you can go past the snickering about it being a place for viruses and porn (which I do not discount, but find not allt hat interesting to harp on), they present a curious approach to doing some place based activities/games/storytelling. One difference I can see is that a dead drop’s files could be sequentially edited by visitors, e.g. a text document growing like an exquisite corpse approach:

Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver (from the original French term cadavre exquis) or rotating corpse, is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. “The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun”) or by being allowed to see the end of what the previous person contributed.

We even had a play at this last year in ds106 via a Google Doc.

There’s no reason why the file could not be am image, audio, or video file (the latter would take more effort).

We are hoping to run a session on pirate box / dead drop at Northern Voice in June- what we’d really like to do is go outside and place a few in places nearby the conference location.

I just noted there are some mobile apps made for dead drops though the iPhone app just spun for me. I might check out the layar layer (that one told me that Bruce sterling was around the corner from here- hmmmm).

These are intriguing to me, and I am eager to hear your ideas on what could be done with say a distributed set of dead drops.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Scavenger hunt, first. Each dead drop contains clues which point to others, while also pointing to interesting locations.

    Then LARP it up. Have dds function as story points as player-actors move across town.

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