ben moretti on Sun, 30 Jun 2002 01:56:52 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Bobo Chalk Signs

Bobo Chalk Signs

There is a great web site at that documents the 
secret chalk signs used by "hobos" or homeless travellers in the USA 
during times such as the Great Depression. Interesting enough, but this 
has been picked up by moderns, vide:
Real hobos don't use cellular phones. Recreational hobos, however, are 
an increasingly wired breed. Once, Depression-era tramps scratched 
symbols on train trestles to pass information to others looking for an 
empty boxcar and a free ride. Now so-called yuppie hobos -- who sneak 
onto freight trains for adventure rather than out of economic 
necessity -- use scanners to monitor railroad frequencies and cellular 
phones to talk with other hobos. They also trade information via more 
than two dozen Web sites, as well as e-mail discussion lists and 
Warchalking Collaboratively creating a hobo-language for free wireless 
networking. ...we hit upon the idea of creating a hobo language for 
wireless access points. Find a node, and leave a chalk symbol for others 
to find the node with a minimum of all that tiresome netstumbler 

All very interesting, but I wondered if this use of chalk signs as 
markers for a hidden network of people could be extended further? Who 
would be able to make a use for such signs? The answer came to mind 
quickly ~ the Bobos.

Yes, those Birkenstock wearing, organic sour dough stuffed with 
sun-dried tomato and brie chomping, inner city dwellers that plague the 
modern metropolis. A mix of bourgeois and bohemian these types have the 
superficial trappings of 'alternative' lifestyle such as Indian fabrics, 
tattoos, Tibetan Buddhism and Permaculture gardens, but dig a little 
deeper and the four wheel drives, stock portfolios and private school 
educations begin to surface. I used to call them 'hippy nazis' but bobo 
is a much better term.

So here they are, the secret signs that the 'ayleet' (say that with an 
Australian accent) use to navigate their way from cafe to organic food 
cooperative in the BMW.

ben moretti

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