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Open to a good ‘toothing!

On the train the other day commuting form Liverpool to Manchester, whilst I was thinking that I really should write another blog, someone tried to ‘tooth me.

Being “toothed” is when someone connects via bluetooth with your bluetooth enabled discoverable device – in this case, my mobile phone. Bluetooth works like infared, enabling digital information to travel from device to other devices within a certain radius through the air. Unlike infared, the devices don’t have to be lined up with nothing in the way, and the transfer speed is about four times as fast.

This wasn’t the first time I’d taken part in toothing – I’d lost my cherry about a year back in the Tea Factory in Liverpool when out with the graphic designer lads and their Apple G4 Powerbooks, we’d tipsily searched for Bluetooth devices, and found three in the bar. We suspected that “Dr Spock” was the name of the laptop being hammered by a curly-haired (presumably) database genius. “T610i” was my mate’s phone. We then spent some time giggling, gathered round the computer sending flirtacious messages to “Love Dude”. It was hard to tell who Love Dude was, as loads of people were receiving and sending texts as they drank chatted and chilled. Love Dude never sent any messages back. The database genius winked at us on the way out though.

So back to the train – after blushing (I’m shy when I’m by myself – ) and my heart rate raising momentarily at the excitement of this technology initiated random interaction, I started to sneakily look around the train carriage. Part my excitement was that no one else (apart from the ‘toother) in the carriage knew that I was about to have a random interaction with someone else – it was in public, but still SECRET. I was about to receive data from a stranger in the same public place but no one else knew it was happening. How empowering! What did this person want with me? What did they want to send me? My mind wandered… suddenly I was on the train roof, struggling against the wind but making my way to a sprawled Sean Bean baddy. I whipped out my mobile phone and pointed it threateningly at him. “The name’s Bond. Jane Bond…”. “O2… see what you can do…” he uttered in a flat Yorkshire death rattle, as his mobile slipped from his hand and slithered off the roof.

Anyway, back in the carriage about 10 people were fiddling with their mobiles. Having made my own dataworld penetrable for a jolly good toothing, I at least wanted to know who was trying to send me the information– a first impression judged from someone’s appearance would do – without that I felt like a Bluetooth whore. I discounted some of the users because they were talking on their phones, or their phone models were too old to have Bluetooth. None of the rest looked like a spy, or a weirdo or even a sheepish techno geek. Just commuters.

I accepted the tooth file and was pleased with the screensaver image of a sunset it turned out to be. I don’t know whether it was a downloaded image or a picture someone had taken with their phone camera. The artistic director in me wants it to be the latter – a budding photographic artist on the train that morning wanted to share their work so much, and felt the subject matter so universal that they wanted to send it to all the devices they could discover around them.

What a great way to disseminate your art – it’s a free way of connecting directly with a new random audience, (and no: you’re not spamming people, because they have to give you permission to send!).

So maybe I’ll walk into your Bluetooth zone one day. If Ms Valentine ever appears within your range then ‘tooth me with your mobile art. (And keep it art eh – I know my device name suggests otherwise, but I’m not that bothered about the pics of the Warrington Missus flashing…)

Hannah Rudman, 19th March 2006.