NPR logo "An Anonymous, Offline, Peer To Peer File-Sharing Network In Public Space"

Must Reads

"An Anonymous, Offline, Peer To Peer File-Sharing Network In Public Space"

One of five public USB drives installed in public places in New York. Aram Bartholl hide caption

toggle caption
Aram Bartholl

Across New York City, a new kind of network is going up. You may see it. USB connections jutting out of walls at locations around the city. You can plug into, anybody can, and leave whatever they want and download what they want. The man behind the project, Aram Bartholl, describes the project he calls "Dead Drops" this way:

...An anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. I am ‘injecting’ USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs accessible 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 favorite files and data.

The allure is unmistakable. Admit, if you saw one of these, wouldn't you want to plug in? As Gizmodo puts it:

I mean, if I saw a USB stick stick out of a random wall, I'd be dying to know what's in there. I'd have to plug in. It'd also be interesting to see what people would anonymously share on the public drive, well, until some jackass decides to upload a virus to screw up everybody's computer.

Bartholl has installed five USB drives in New York, and has plans for other cities, and to encourage others to take up the project in their town.

(hat tip: Daily Dish)