Making a dead drop story is cheap (under $60 for a 10-drop story) and doesn’t require any specialized technical skills. You – yes, you! – can do it.
Here are some ideas on how to make your own dead drop adventure.
CHOOSE A STORY
This could be a novel, short story, or any narrative text. Take into consideration how the story (and its locations) do (or don’t) relate to your city, your targeted location or areas, and the experience you want to create for viewers. We suggest writing your own original story or finding a pre-existing story that is not copyright protected.
There are a couple ways to tackle choosing and fusing the story and the actual physical routes and locations.
MAP the NARRATIVE
- Read through the story.
- Highlight interesting or pertinent locations, references to places, directions, etc. Also highlight other interesting repeating motifs, symbols, cultural or historical references, or whatever you want to highlight in the adventure you create.
MAP the GEOGRAPHIC JOURNEY
- Study a map of the area you want to target for the adventure. Look for and mark interesting places and locations that relate to what you’ve highlighted in the story, and also relate to the kind of experience and story you want to create.
- Go out and location scout these places and the whole area, looking to see if there are suitable dead drop spots near those sites. You’re also looking for other unexpected sites that may reveal themselves. Using less “valuable” spaces as your attachment sites is best – we don’t encourage defacing well-kept privately-owned buildings. An empty tube attached to a chain-link fence, though… Do remember that you’ll be asking people to remove their laptops in plain view at this location, so think about whether you’d be comfortable holding a laptop at this site.
- Photo document all possible sites. Reference photos will really help when you’re trying to rewrite a story to lead to the location.
MERGE THE STORY AND THE GEOGRAPHY
- Narrow down the best physical locations, and match them to their “location” in the order of the story.
- Rewrite the story as needed. Take creative license. Look for serendipity and unexpected connections and reveals.
INSTALL THE DEAD DROPS
- Read the dead drops manifesto.
- Get a USB flash drive of any size.
- Dismantle the plastic cover. (Sometimes the stick stays more stable if you leave it on; feel free to experiment.)
- Wrap it in plumbers tape to seal it off.
- Download the readme.txt and manifesto here (eng, french, esp, port,russ, dutch, ger, ita, chin, czech), edit authorship/credits/date, and load it on the drive. [more translations are welcome!]
- Use fast setting concrete to cement the stick in a crack or hole for permanent installation. For temporary installation, use epoxy putty.
- Make sure to make the wall look nice afterwards. Eventually you may need some color for touch up.
- Make sure to place it in a way that it can be accessed directly with a laptop. (Not everybody has an extension cable)
- USB ports locations on laptops are different from model to model. The ‘front side’ (2 holes of the plug) points up! Are the left side port and right side port on a laptop accessible?
- Optional: you could use epoxy putty to glue the flash drive to other objects.
- Take 3 good pictures!
- Overview of the street/place, how does your city look like?
- Approximate location of your dead drop, medium distance.
- Closeup! We want to see your dead drop.
Optional: see the instructions by frenzy on Instructables.com.