Tag Archives: blogcrossing

Geocaching Memory Bugs

I’ve already released USB memory sticks loose into the wild – as it were. I called those BlogCrossing. Each BlogCrossing is a self-contained WordPress blog (like this one) and the idea is that each person that has the memory stick in their possession should make some sort of contribution, in the form of a blog post.


Geocaching with Caiti and Demelza. We found this Knight travel bug just by the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, I took him to Manchester.

I saw it as the inverse of blogging, rather than being written by an individual and available to the masses this blog is written by many people but can only be read by a single person at one time.

Recently I’ve become more and more enamored with geocaching – via geocaching.com – and I thought combining the traveling memory stick concept with geocaching would work great. For those who don’t know, geocaching is (according to the ever-present Wikipedia):

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called “geocaches” or “caches”) anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and “treasure,” usually toys or trinkets of little value.

Geocaching websites offer things called Travel Bugs. These are generally metal dog-tags that you can purchase for a small fee. Each one has a unique identification number on it and they can be attached to anything you like. These items can be tracked via geocaching.com.

So the idea is that people take my USB memory sticks from place to place and contribute items of digital media along the way. In the long-run I will create online (and maybe offline) exhibitions of the generated content.

In the short term, I’ve created my own geocaches as starting places for the memory sticks. The memory sticks themselves will be taken away, but the geocaches will remain.

Links to the relevant pages on geocaching.com:

In due course I’ll post any further info about the geocache’d memory sticks here.

BlogCrossing; Isnternet; Anti-Blogs; Liberation

Since I discovered it was possible, I’ve been yearning to make something out of the Webserver on a Stick project (WOS). Components that make WOS are:

  • A web server; Apache
  • A database server; MySQL
  • A scripting language; PHP

For one, I love all the recursive acronyms. GNU, stands for GNU is not UNIX. Witty! And PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. I suppose this is why I get called a geek. Not just for knowing the acronyms – necessarily – but that I find them funny.

Anyway, the case in point is that these three pieces of software, three giants of the software world; can all be crammed onto a USB memory stick. The “AMP” combination (Apache, MySQL, PHP) is such a powerful combination, although rarely seen by end-users directly, it sits behind hundreds of millions of websites, not to mention the hundreds of famous companies that use software like MySQL. Most amazingly something that warms by heart and opens my mind is that it is all distributed for free and with freedom. Their mission statement is this:

[it is our] mission to preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights of all free software users

It is also, from what I can tell, a mostly pointless exercise. There is very little point in having these three incredibly powerful pieces of software on a memory stick; it is more a showcase of possibilities. The power of the software, and the millions of man-hours of work that has gone into the software development, is encapsulated in an extremely small artifact. Its almost like having an all knowing guru, who could have memorised all of human history, but they are unable to write, talk or communicate in any other way. The strength and power of the software is somehow “trapped”.

BlogCrossing Concept

You may have heard of BookCrossing (“bookcrossing” is now included in the Oxford Concise Dictionary). BookCrossing is defined as;

“the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise”

Although I have significantly different aims, I have transferred the same functional structure, which resonates well with my other audience collaboration oriented work, to work with the “Webserver of a Stick” technology.

Rather than leaving a book in a public place, I am leaving USB memory sticks. Each stick has installed on it Apache, MySQL and PHP and blogging system WordPress (also the system behind this blog!). Anyone who plugs in a memory stick they have found is invited to make a blog entry and then pass the memory stick on to another person, who will then pass it on to another, and so on. I want to this to continue until each stick’s memory is full, when they will all be sent back to me.

Isnternet; although it is all web and internet based technology, BlogCrossing works in a completely “disconnected” manner. The network is made by the people rather than the telephony and internet networks that we are more often a part of.

Anti-Blogs; traditionally a blog resides on the web, and can be accessed by any number of visitors, search engines, news aggregators and so on. Also, most blogs are maintained by an individual, they’re often diaries and journals (like this one!). BlogCrossing is neither of these things, and in fact it is in the inverse. Maintained and written by many individuals, accessible by only one person at a time.

BlogCrossing; a tribute to the brilliance and success of BookCrossing.

I’ve released three BlogCrossings so far.. I hope they’re doing well.

My one misgiving is also the strongest part of the project. I’m worried that the network of people will break down. Somebody might loose the memory stick, they might steal the memory stick, they might accidentally delete all the data on it, anyone of these things would just ruin it. However if those things don’t happen, it proves a mass-understanding, a connectedness (even in anonymity); for me a pleasurable outcome. The aim, is that each person that takes part, and in the future people who see the fruits of the project will feel that pleasure too.

NB, I just spell checked, misread something that I thought I’d written, then thought of the word “witticism”, checked it and it exists – Cool!

“Witty remark. Blend of witty and criticism.”