Poetic SSIDs

Artists see the same world that the rest of us do. They just see it from a little bit off to the left. Where you see picking an ESSID for your router as being a hassle, or an opportunity to insult your neighbors, [Dmitry], alias [::vtol::] sees a poetry-delivery mechanism.

Based on ESP8266 units, each “poet” has a battery and a switch. Turn it on and it changes its SSID once every ten seconds, feeding everyone who’s listening the next line of a poem. You can’t connect to the network, but you can occasionally hit refresh on your WiFi scanner and read along.

Since they’re so cheap to build, [::vtol::] sees them almost as if they were poetry-throwies. You could easily afford to leave a few around the city, guerilla-style, broadcasting your (slow) message one SSID at a time. We love the video clips (inlined below) of him riding the subway with the device on.

For more socially-motivated art from [::vtol::], check out this baton that texts your mother when you hit someone. Or if you just want to see something beautiful, this is our favorite work of ferrofluid art, hands-down.

34 thoughts on “Poetic SSIDs

    1. Yeah great, some asshole found a way to spam/troll using SSID. And pointlessly occupy channels on WiFi making people’s life miserable, yay.
      I hope he finds his due, and I hope emulators get it double.

      Let me complete my post with the almost mandatory: Fuck that guy.

  1. I liked the ferro-fluid art. I don’t have anything positive to say about this.

    This is essentially a denial-of-service device. Drop the ten second timer down to its minimum, and you’re filling a station’s SSID list with bogus entries and preventing people from finding a legitimate AP. That this does it slower makes it somewhat less nefarious, but it’s still an abuse of the public spectrum. It’s like drawing on a public sidewalk and then roping the area off so I can’t use it for its intended purpose.

    Please refrain from turning these into throwies…

  2. In my opinion this is not a good thing. There is already more than enough HF-crap in the air (on wifi-frequencies or elsewhere), please don’t add more useless signals. Just try to make wifi work in some big city and you will see what i’m talking about…

  3. I don’t really see any point in the project. Wasting people’s bandwidth. Who will be so bored in opening their “Connect to Wi-Fi” menu and watch the words change? Besides, why on earth do you need a box to do that? Can’t you just do it from a rooted phone (mobile hotspot)? Or a laptop using a separate USB dongle?

    1. Artists normally do this kind of thing for some show-off project and it’s soon abandoned, the problem is that by putting this out there many less savory copycats will use it to be unpleasant.

      In on itself one artist doing it for a few days doesn’t matter.

  4. Hmmm, seems like this could be used by “spies” one person broadcasts an encoded message and the other receives the encoded message, but the advantage of this is who knows who is receiving the message, if you have a cellphone you can do it, and who doesn’t have a cellphone, good way to anonymously get a secret message.

    1. Receiving secret message isn’t too hard I think, there are many ways to do it, the trick is to anonymously and untraceable send them. And this is rather traceable,

      However if you do it spangly it might be used for some warning system, maybe a few SSID cryptic changes a day, that should go pretty much unnoticed.

      Perhaps to replace twitter which now is monitored 24/7 and every tweet is gone over by about 500 investigative services.

  5. “We love the video clips (inlined below) of him riding the subway with the device on.”

    I’m genuinely curious why you liked that part. As far as I can tell, the entire video (including the subway section) didn’t show anyone other than the creator noticing anything special. It was just a bunch of people staring at their phones (could be doing anything). The video as a whole was well edited and artistic from a cinematic point of view, but the content seemed worthless in terms of showing the public’s reaction.

    At first I expected some sort of captive portal on open wifi leading to more of the poet’s work, or at least a complete poem. But that obviously wasn’t the goal.

  6. It’s probably not going to be on 24 hours a day, for endless years. I’d imagine after maybe a day or two our inventor will have proved his point. Maybe he’ll switch it on occasionally to impress nerdy friends. It’s not really a nightmare of digital pollution. And unless you live near him you’re not even going to notice it.

    Can’t 2 Wifi networks share the same channel? So all he’s sending is a few hundred bytes a second. Shouldn’t even be noticable to other networks.

    1. It’s not the ‘2’ channels sharing bandwidth. It’s that there is usually a dozen or so AP’s probably already taking up space.
      I like the idea of smart SSID’s but would rather it be a router that changes its SSID every hour or so and is a real AP.
      Some of the commenters here have a hard enough time just connecting to their own devices because of all the noise. We just don’t want this ‘hack’ to get out of hand.

  7. Please, stop it with the “throwies”. We already face environmental issues with all that e-waste, that we don’t need to create additional waste in the name of an “art piece” that will last just a few days and entertain a nerd or two…

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