I’ve had to keep moving around here in Philly to escape notice. There are way too many people walking around in dark shades, carrying radios, looking around. I apologize for my friends who are here for the EDUCAUSE conference, but I can’t be socializing or hanging around sessions.

But I now know my next location I need to get too.

I found a quiet spot to sleep 3 hours last night (thanks @pumpkiny for sneaking me some vendor food in a bag and @GardnerCampbell for the night cap) inside a closed up restaurant off of 10th and Race Street.

I heard foot steps at 5:00am, and a gentle knock. By the time I pried the door open, the street was empty, but my eye caught an envelope sticking out of a grate at sidewalk level.

All it said on the outside was @cogdog. There was nothing inside, but when I slit open and unfolded the envelope, is aw this gibberish:

Bar xrl gb haybpx KB. Oruvaq gur phegnva arne Purejryy, cnfg oebxra unaqyr. Or pnershy. @0cpbqr49

Huh? At least that last part looks a little like the signature of my own source of contact, @Opcode49. If I could find the right decoder, I could descramble the message. Fortunately I recalled a presentation (at an EDUCAUSE conference) a few years ago when Bryan Alexander shared some of the cyphers used in ARGs. I got lucky on my first try, guessing it might be ROT13– the message revealed unscrambled:


One key to unlock XO. Behind the curtain near Cherwell, past broken handle. Be careful. @0pcode49

So this XO had some sort of key needed to boot up? Not just any boot, but a special USB that someone had hidden elsewhere! It must be at the conference center, Cherwell might be a software company or a student newspaper, but it must be a location in the vendor hall.

I snuck in the employee’s entrance to the conference center, and found a janitor uniform (My name is Roberto) with a low hanging cap. I was able to find my way to the location, and score the USB key, check out my footage:


So here is what I know. I still do not have the special message hidden on this machine. I cannot do anything but see this splash screen, but it says I have to get to New York City ASAP, and track down the wise Obi Don Potter, aka Grant Potter. He must have the info on how to extract the real message on the machine.

I am now at the Philly bus station, trying to get to New York ASAP. I know Grant is there, as well as Jim Groom and Dr Garcia. I would really like to be at their session at Baruch College Symposium on Innovation in Teaching, but am not sure I am going to be able to surface, or I may be sent elsewhere.

I really wish I could tap into more information. Dr Oliver? AWOL. Dr Oblivion? Is he even alive? How about ds106- are you doing anything to try and get me some information about what this Journey to the Center of the INternet is about. I am thinking that I dont have enough time or skills here, and that @0pcode49 is starting to give up on me.

But I do sense, and get whispers that the internet might really be in danger, and from forces that might want to use it not for the same open and sharing purposes I have grown to know and love for almost 20 years.

For now, I trust that I can get some wisdom from Obi Don Potter:

Stay tuned, I may not be occupying, but I am headed to NYC.

PS- I am thinking they don;t know their Star Wars stuff so well- that should have been Obi Wan Potter!

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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.


  1. You are seriously strange. Uh. I mean deranged. No, no, I mean estranged. Short-changed, up in flames…
    Look up my boss Brad Hinson at EDUCAUSE, reealy nice guy, straight arrow. On second thought, I don’t know if you’ll think of athing to talk about.
    Except me.
    That oughtta keep the conversation fired up for all of three seconds.
    On second thought, keep on your weird way…

    1. Thanks Sandy. I work hard to be strange. It is about time someone caught on.

      I think I know Brad from where he was before Lane. But I have already moved on from EDUCAUSE since I have gotten the key I needed; the adventure is moving north.

      But I do have great memories of visiting Lane and he grooviness that is Eugene. If I get out of this mess, I hope to visit again some day.

      As long as there is no @MerrilStubing hanging around.

  2. I’m glad I chanced across this very fun & suspenseful adventure, Alan!

    For some reason, I can’t post a reply on your YouTube, ‘Message from the XO’ page, so FYI, the link is broken on that page to here. (you misspelled your own blog! :)

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