With the advent of the internet, we can share music, video images, and information with people all over the world within minutes – but now there is an international community sharing files in a more mysterious way through the use of “dead drops”.
Dead drops are USB flash drives concealed in hidden spots in cities and towns, such as cemented into a crack in a wall or a kerb. Users can then plug the flash drives into their devices and add information, copy files over or remove them, anonymously sharing any information they choose with others who access them. The idea of the project was to enable peer to peer file sharing in real life public spaces, inspired by traditional espionage techniques such as leaving documents concealed in hidden spots in cities.
The project was started in 2010 by Berlin artist Aram Bartholl. Initially, five USB drives were installed in random locations around New York City. Five years on, dead drops can now be found in over 1,500 locations across the globe. People can install their own dead drops in their city and submit the location to the website at www.deaddrops.com.
Although this is definitely an intriguing idea and an exciting new way to share information in the “real world” as opposed to online, there are obvious risks. Illicit information has already been found uploaded to some dead drops, such as recipes for bombs, poisons and crystal meth. Users also run the risk of inadvertently installing malware onto their devices. You simply never know what you are going to see when you access the flash drive – but for many users, this is all part of the excitement.