Environment Hack For File Sharing

September 27, 2013

Dead DropA German artist has sparked a movement to make peer-to-peer file sharing a great representation of local cultures — through Dead Drops.

Dead Drops is an offline, anonymous network for public peer-to-peer file-sharing. The Dead Drop name comes from a method spies would use to communicate or exchange information instead of a face-to-face meeting.

The first few Dead Drops were placed in New York City, during the founder’s stay in the city in 2010. Since then, there have been more than 1,200 Dead Drops planted around the world, ranging from Chile to Norway and there are even two in Minneapolis.

The concept has spread so quickly because setting a Dead Drop up is relatively simple. All you have to do is install a USB flash drive in a public space, like a wall on the street or park bench for anyone to use. In addition to the file that explains the Dead Drop concept, you’re able to leave your favorites files, like a list of your favorite restaurants, on the flash drive for others. Once the location is made public, others can stop by, grab the files and leave some for the more people to enjoy.

There are certainly a few risks that come along with going up to a random flash drive, plugging in your computer and taking files from it. Primarily, there could be viruses or other corrupt files that could infect your computer. However, peer-to-peer file sharing through the internet carries the exact same risk and scanning the folders with anti-virus software can help decrease that risk. Additionally, since Dead Drops’ community members have to actively seek out the locations, I feel the files are less dangerous than internet files, which could be coming from anywhere around the world.

Reinan - Dead Drops

Reinan taking advantage of the Fast Horse Dead Drop

The biggest upside to utilizing local Dead Drops is that you’re almost always going to find something new. You could find a new band that you’ve never heard of or read the first few chapters of a book someone in your community is writing. Additionally, you get to share your favorite things with other, hoping to inspire them as well. Overall, these local Dead Drops are a great representation of the local community. It shows what community members are interested in and helps enlighten others, whether that be musically, intellectually or socially.

As an experiment, I installed a Dead Drop in the Fast Horse headquarters. Hopefully people will enjoy the files I placed on it and will share their own, which should help us learn even more about everyone in the office.

Note: I’m not endorsing vandalism here. Please check to make sure you are allowed to install a Dead Drop in a location prior to doing so.