Two and a half years ago at the 2012 Northern Voice Conference, Giulia Forsythe, Zack Dowell, and I took our presentation into an alley behind the W venue. In the rain, we cemented a USB thumb drive (which the participants had added files via a Piratebox before we went outside) into the crevice of a wall. A deaddrop.

The session was Share Me at the Dead Drop:

USB drives embedded into brick walls, local wireless networks hidden in lunch boxes are a few examples of low tech ways of creating anonymous peer to peer file sharing in public spaces. Come prepared to connect and share open content with a PirateBox and explore how they might used in civic action. If all goes well, we will even go outside, put a dead drop into place, and get the rest of the conference attendees to check in.

I wonder if anyone every actually attached themselves to the protruding business end of the thumb drive.

Roland Tanglao captured the action in a video

It was weird and fun. How long would a plastic piece stay in a wall secured by hastily mixed concrete?

When I was in town just this past November, Jason Toal and I wandered by the alley. We had a hard time even trying to remember where the exact location was. My bad memory thought it was brick, but when I reviewed later, it looked like it was the end of a white blocky concrete wall section.

Gone, USB, Gone.

Today I stopped by the area to visit Roland at the swank Mozilla office, and we caught up over coffee in the shop nearby. As camera nuts we did a quick walk down just a bit where he showed by a large hole in the row of buildings that had been demolished for a renovation project.

Roland said, “Let’s go see if the dead drop is still there!” I told him about the aborted effort to find it, but we walked around the back of the building (I forgot that the W was that close). I took a quick photo of the area where I thought the original deaddrop was put in:

That left edge where the fence comes in is right where a building that was standing in 2012 (and November 2014) is now gone.

It was not until I saw the photo while editing tonight that I swear is the end of the USB drive, right there in the first mortar line about 1/3 from the top of the photo. Do you see it?

I sought out some photos others took from that day in 2012, and (of course) I found this one by Roland, with me showing the location of the deaddrop. The read door to the right the same, it’s the same block.

I put the photos together in Photoshop to see if it matches (first trying to distort them to line up and make an animated GIF), but it seems clear to me. The dead drop is still there!

I think we need one more trip to confirm.

Before the building disappears.

I do not know how you prepare for presentations; this was my process in 2012:

Confirmed a few days later- present, likely not operable

Top / Featured Image: cc licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by cogdogblog:

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
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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