This case is now closed. A found camera left on the Go Train in Toronto, found by Giulia and GNA, has been received by its owners, a family in Germany.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by vic xia

Of course, that is not the real camera shown above, it is my imagined metaphor of the moment.

We were curious if sharing selected photos on the web, and appealing to the network effect of the internet might be able to identify who the camera belongs to. I gave the effort two weeks because there actually was rather ore direct way to do this.

Once the 2 weeks had passed, I removed the photos from the site and went to DEFCON 2.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by cjdaniel_

My conclusion was stated that “the internet failed” but that is not 100% correct.

There was a lot of fun in doing detective work on the photos and mapping its journey.

The key photo showed an RV at a Cruise America office we concluded they had rented it for a trip from Chicago to Cleveland to Buffalo to Toronto. In the background was a sign for the neighboring car repair business, which I found by google mapping it to a location in Chicago. The map indeed showed the business next to a Cruise America office, from where I got the business’s phone number.

I used a reliable technology.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Although I had a license plate, that was not enough information, but I can guess the date was enough info for their office to send my email address and phone number to the people who rented the vehicle. I sent the camera on it way from Middlebury Vermont in early November.

In the time since, I have had a pleasant series of email exchanges with the camera owner, who shared that the pictures were very special since it was a family trip to celebrate the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary. Seeing my location, she asked some curious questions about what kind of place Strawberry Arizona is (I sent back a few photos).

On receiving the camera last week, she wrote:

Today I received the camera!

It is such a pleasure to look at the photos and think about the good time we had. Especially to see the photos of Chicago is amazing. It was so nice and the weather was beautiful, everybody was in a good mood, perfect”¦

Thank you so much for sending the parcel!!

My own travel overlap has been interesting, since in the time it was mailed, I crossed the same border crossing they did for crossing from Buffalo into Canada, rode the Go train into Toronto, visited Cleveland (I am guessing from the photo of Cleveland Browns stadium I parked in the same lot), and even passed near Chicago.

We may wonder about all the impact of technology, how it may or may not be changing society, social interaction, revolutionizing industries, etc.

Yet it’s these little positive intersections that I know happen maybe thousands or more times a day between people, that never become news or front page stories– that really are important. They are the fundamental unit of social media. They are pretty much invisible among the other zigabytes of data that zip around the tubes. They create connections and potentials for more that would have never been possible in another age.

And that, among everything else, is what I really live for. The connections that happen that we never really even see on a big scale. Like fireflies in the night, spanning all the way across a continent, skipping oceans to the next one.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by s58y

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at 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.

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