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Wireless Graffiti Hits Bar Wall

Charting the spread of 'Wiffiti'

August 15, 2006

2 Min Read
Wireless Graffiti Hits Bar Wall

5:20 PM -- Illustrating the principle that applications for new wireless technologies can't be foreseen until somebody invents them, an enterprising Somerville, Mass., company called LocaModa (specializing in "proprietary interactive networks that extend the power of the Web to the street, helping consumers in the moment, opt-in and connect to brands") has developed Wiffiti, which, as you might guess, is a combination of "WiFi" and "graffiti."

The idea is simple: You're sitting in your favorite coffeehouse or eatery (in the case of my base, Boulder, it's Half Fast Subs on Uni Hill), and suddenly you have a burning desire to share your thoughts with the world. What do you do? You send a text message to the proper access code, and, voilá, your message appears on the plasma screen on the wall.

You can view actual messages in real time at any of the eight locations that have Wiffiti screens at TxtOutLound. In fact, you can send messages to any of the eight locales, from anywhere, as long as you have the proper access code.

Most of the messages tend to be of the "the barista is hot" variety, although occasionally eerie nonsense lyrics float across the screen ("the bonesmith haunts my dreams and Chula Vista"). The messages fade out over time, replaced by new ones as they come in. It's like the collective consciousness of the gathered patrons, displayed selectively and evolved over time. Already, marriage proposals have been made via Wiffiti, though if you're proposing in a sub shop you might want to re-think your romantic tactics.

Not sure how this will catch on -- as any subway-train artist will tell you, the value of graffiti lies in its elaboration, not its message -- but I can't wait for some marketing jerk to figure out a way to slap ads up there and "monetize" the whole thing.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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