“And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
It wasn’t very long ago, April of this year, to be exact, that I stumbled across the idea of a USB Dead Drop. The concept is simple. You install a mostly-blank usb thumb drive somewhere out in public, where folks can stop by and leave files – anything they want.
It’s called a Dead Drop because it has roots in the sort of activity a spy might do – a secret spot where two people can exchange information without actually meeting. One leaves it behind, the other picks it up.
This is like that, except digital… and public. The idea is that people can do anonymous file sharing. It’s a low-tech peer to peer file sharing system that has a physical component – you actually have to go to the place to drop off and/or pick up a file.
If this seems silly or useless to you, don’t worry – it is. However, to me it is an irresistible attraction.
I checked the database and found one dead drop that was active in my city – visited it, and exchanged a few files (nothing earth-shattering… nothing even interesting, really).
But that wasn’t enough. I had a couple cheap old thumb drives, so I put a couple out myself. One in the creekbottom woods not far from where I live, the other on a bridge across the Trinity south of downtown.
The one in the woods didn’t last a week. I wasn’t surprised, there are a lot of teenagers running around there. Someone pried it out of the concrete and I haven’t bothered to replace it.
But I haven’t been able to check the Love Lock Dead drop on the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. For a long time, the water was so high I couldn’t get to it. And since then the few times I’ve been down there I was riding in a group and didn’t want to hold everybody up while I checked.
So, finally I had time to ride my bike there and it was still good. It’s a little orange USB stick riveted to a red lock along the bridge railing. There’s a whole bunch of love locks there, places where people put their names on a lock and attach it to the steel.
I had brought my tablet and adapter cable, so I was able to check out the USB. It was still good – still working.
The only disappointing part is that it didn’t have anything new on it. Nobody seems to want to go through the trouble of lugging digital stuff that far out into the boonies.
Well, that’s how it goes. You can lead a horse to water…..