Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Megan Garber writes that wireless routers have become the lawn signs of the digital age particularly in large apartment buildings, where almost every unit has a unique wifi network that will be detected in turn by all the other unique wifi networks, SSIDs can be a cheeky, geeky way to broadcast messages to your immediate neighbors. Most of us keep it simple with "275_Elm_Street," "Apt23," or "my_network" but some get more creative with names like: "Apt112IHaveYourMail," "PrettyFlyForAWiFi," or "WeCanHearYouHavingSex" — a great way to freak out your annoying neighbors without hiding in their bushes or peeping in their windows late at night. Now the team at OpenSignalMaps, which maintains a database of geolocated wifi access points, analyzed the data they've collected about wireless routers to see whether wifi names are "being used to fly political colors" and have found, globally, 1,140 results for "Obama" and an additional six for "Romney" — an indication not necessarily of Romney's popularity relative to the president's, but of the attention that four years as president can confer. "There's something uniquely contemporary and incredibly old-school about that kind of broadcasting: It's messaging meant only for your immediate neighbors," writes Garber "It's both intimate and isolating, both invasive and impersonal, both omnipresent and invisible, both passive and aggressive." Which makes them a good metaphor for political discourse as it looks in the US today with its particular mix of intimacy and impersonality. "The politicized network names are like lawn signs for people who don't have lawns.""
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