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Dead Drops: USB Drives in Cement for an Anonymous, Offline P2P Network

Dead Drops is the name of an ongoing project by artist and real-life cyberpunk Aram Bartholl, the aim of which is to create “an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space” using public USB flash drives embedded into public walls. Anyone can plug in and upload or download files. So far, there are already five locations set up in New York City.

Bartholl:

I am ‘injecting’ USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs accessable to anybody in public space. You are invited to go to these places (so far 5 in NYC) to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your files and date. Each dead drop contains a readme.txt file explaining the project. ‘Dead Drops’ is still in progress, to be continued here and in more cities. Full documentation, movie, map and ‘How to make your own dead drop’ manual coming soon! Stay tuned.

Obviously, there’s potential for malicious use here: All it takes is one person uploading a virus for this project to lead to harm by a virtually untraceable perpetrator. But that may be part of the art, no? Another concern is weatherproofing; a few days of snow or rain could mess these up rather easily. Still: Very cool concept, and in light of the increasing convergence of “computing” and “the Web” (witness Google’s concept for Chrome OS), the offline-ness of Bartholl’s alternate network is especially subversive and cheeky.

Location list at Bartholl’s site.

(Aram Bartholl via NOTCOT)

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