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:
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?
Go to Runnin’ Scared for more Voice news coverage.