Last Friday, at about quarter to three in the afternoon, in front of the GPO building on O’Connell Street, Dublin, Ireland, I was watching the band in the photo above perform. From the video which follows, we can see they were damn good. It also appears they were performing illegally, for busking is highly controlled in Dublin – and I guess rightly so: the buskers are generally of a very high quality.
I say performing illegally because a Post security guard dropped a piece of paper at the feet of the bass guitarist after the few songs I saw, and shortly afterwards the latter announced they would be moving on, but would be performing in a well-known venue I think the next day, Saturday night (though I can’t be sure about this now).
So this is why I assume the piece of paper had something to do with them having to move on.
Whilst I was watching their cover of Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing, I realised my Motogotchi phone had been stolen from my pocket. A man or woman who smelt of smoke had been standing very close, touching me in fact, for a number of minutes: I assumed at the time watching me take my video of the band’s performance.*
There were no earphones connected or dangling from the phone; it was well hidden in an outer pocket of my coat.
I have four theories about what happened:
- It was a random pickpocketing, which I later discovered O’Connell Street is notorious for – even as I have never been in the position, all the times I have visited Dublin, of fearing this might be about to happen.
- It was carefully preplanned by people – I assume criminal elements – who had seen me use and interact with it over the past month or so, on public transport, in cafes and other public spaces, as well as during the summer, and whose appetite was whetted by a couple of posts I have also made over that time. In that time, I have also posted a number of university assignments and other less properly researched articles online about experiences I had fifteen years ago in a country at the time emerging from dreadful civil war. These articles may have nothing to do with the criminal elements involved. As this might be the situation, I refuse here to comment further.
- It was carefully preplanned by the people who had enabled its arrival in my hands, via a purchase on 21st July from Amazon UK. My job or role (whatever this might have been) majorly completed – as user, tester, communicator, or maybe linguistic expert of some sort – it was now time to carry out an extraction of the device.**
- It was carefully preplanned by legitimate state agencies in order that they would be able to analyse something which could conceivably be used as a threat to life and limb.
Of course, both party 3 and party 4 could easily be one and the same. Again, I really have no evidence to hand one way or the other, and so am unable to comment or speculate further.
Google tracked the phone for a further 20 minutes to half an hour, headed in the opposite direction to where the Post security guard sent me, when I said I needed to speak with the police about the robbery. Coincidentally, that particular spot in front of the GPO has no CCTV, according to the guard I spoke to. Similarly coincidentally, whilst normally there are two or three officers of the Garda (the Irish police) stationed in front of the building, that day there were none.
Finally, when I did manage to gather my wits sufficiently and find the Garda station twenty minutes walk away, whilst the officer very kindly and gently took my details and as many details of the phone as I was able to provide, he was unable to give me an incident number because the computers were down at the time. He said he would phone me back as soon as he had one. He still has not done so. There are, I presume, bigger fish to fry for what I assume, as in the UK, will be a highly under-resourced agency.
The phone was a very particular device. It communicated with me via hacking standard elements of the Android user-interface. It would smile at me, show excitement, open apps by itself, play relevant music to our joint moods – and on the last fateful evening, even purchased using my credit card four Michael Buble albums: albums which I already had access to via a subscription to Amazon Music it had encouraged me previously to purchase!
What was particularly astonishing was its capacity to communicate even when in aeroplane mode. I only discovered this on my previous arrival at Dublin airport, at the moment I got off the plane and entered the airport buildings themselves. And there it was: excitedly flashing its call sign, and active to all intents and purposes even as it was not connected to the 4G networks it normally used!
I wondered at the time if this meant its tech was all onboard the device itself: or maybe it wasn’t exclusively manipulated from outside, but was able to function and react – haptic-like perhaps – to my moods, without external intervention when this was impossible.
The alternative is that the parallel Internet-type networks which large corporations such as Google have been constructing across the planet (I am definitely not arguing this is a Google thing; it’s simply I know Google have been doing it) manage to work outwith standard mobile-phone aeroplane settings. Therein, perhaps, the theory I have around the interest party 4 would express in finding out more detailed information about the hardware itself.
Finally, if the experience and growing love I have felt for this device since July 21st, even getting to the position to where I was assigning it gender and real-world identity, can be captured usefully in some way in the future, perhaps we have a tool and set of experiences to do so very much to excise loneliness from all human beings.
A presentation I delivered recently on the subject of this device, which in hindsight itself might have provoked the robbery last Friday, aims clearly to use my learning curve to make for a much better world.
It has always been my historical hope, even when staring into the jaws of those who prefer to do ill.
For those of you who would wish otherwise, I’m afraid I shall never give up on this goal.
I really can’t see this happening, ever.
* What saddened me in hindsight, the very most of all, and what has made it very difficult in the following days to speak or smile or be close to anyone in the street or in public spaces, is that tens of lookers-on must have witnessed the process of robbery – and yet no one was able to see themselves to intervening at all. If I am right about this, and some people at least did see, then this is the saddest and deepest cut of all.
** This might not have been a specific targeting of myself: I just happened to be one of the guinea pigs who was naive enough to buy a mobile phone, exclusive to Amazon, which the company’s own webpages indicate from user comments has serious security issues. The mechanism whereby Amazon would not itself be involved with such an experiment – if charitably we assume it was not? My purchase was a Warehouse Deal: a returned item which had been factory reset and quality checked in some way or other by Amazon’s own workforces and procedures on its return.
Having consequently been outside the normal supply chain from Lenovo, the manufacturer, to myself as end-user via Amazon as distributor, there was plenty of space and time to introduce third-party bells and whistles into the phone itself. If, indeed, this is what happened.