Lonely L Train Riders Now Have Their Own Free WiFi

This week, normally aloof L train riders can unite virtually during their morning commute. Notwork, developed by a creative consultancy group called We Make Cool Sh.it, is a free pirate WiFi network that will operate in the rear cars of the L train from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. every day this week between the Morgan and 8th Avenue stops. Instead of striking up a conversation with your fellow commuters IRL (because, who does that, right?), you can now chat with them on your smartphone, sitting side by side.

The service also offers feeds from a bunch of sites including Gothamist and Gawker (no Runnin' Scared, it seems) plus a "Missed Connections" section and content from local artists and writers. It's targeted towards the kind of people that regularly ride the L train, in case that wasn't clear.

We spoke with one of the creators of Notwork, Matt McGregor-Mento, who explained the project further. He said that there will be 15 people physically carrying servers in shopping bags on the L trains during Notwork operational hours, one on each train. The service will be available in the back two cars of each train.

"The technology works flawlessly," McGregor-Mento said. But not a ton of people are using Notwork yet: "We can't afford to do some giant advertising campaign." McGregor-Mento said that "We like the idea of something that starts out as a discovery process for people."

McGregor-Mento gave us a tour of Notwork from the comfort of our apartment. The homepage when you sign in:

News feeds:

And the pièce de resistance: Missed Connections, where McGregor-Mento and this reporter both chose cute little avatars and where you there is a chat function:

We haven't tried out the service on the train yet, though we're hoping to sometime this week. Have you tried it? Was your commute way awesomer?

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

Go to Runnin' Scared for more Voice news coverage.


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