s4e14: The City Was Connected 

by danhon

0.0 Station Ident

I am, as they say, “between things” at the moment, which is its own set of opportunities and, uh, the opposite of what an opportunity is.Because I am between things and because I like to type things and start things that may or may not be finished or concluded in any way whatsoever, I’ll make this one simple because I’m dealing with a bunch of head stuff. Here’s something that I prepared earlier:

1.0 The City Was Connected

Everything was connected, and I was fucked.I was late paying the water bill, so the parking meter refused service until I coughed up.

The meter said I had 30 seconds to pay the water bill until I had to move my car, and… I just froze. Then the meter attendant came. She said she was just doing her job as she booted my car, then looked down at her phone. Reminded me I hadn’t taken out my recycling.

This wasn’t turning out to be a good day.

She told me I was on my second strike: one more, and I’d lose streetlight privileges. I’d heard about that: a social shaming punishment. Streetlights would create a cone of darkness around just you. It sounded horrible. I shrugged. I didn’t care anymore. Of course, the next level was suspension of physical mail delivery and a karma dock on Nextdoor.

Fuck Nextdoor. Everything had gone to shit when they’d come in as the ‘social fabric platform’ when IBM connected the city. It’s not like the streetlights worked, anyway. In theory the full-spectrum full-color LEDs were super smart, but they were IOT-dumb.

Some joker had leaked another cache of NSA zero-day’s for Windows Embedded last month and the lights had been useless ever since. At least the kids at the high school were having fun. The lights outside Elspeth High kept flashing ‘Mr. Franklin Is A Kiddy Fiddler’. There was no chance the school admins or police could figure out who did it and besides, they had other problems. Not least of which I’d heard that the receipt printers for school dinners were drawing a cock on each receipt now, with Franklin’s address

Anyway, using streetlights to create a cone of darkness for social shaming if you hadn’t paid a water bill? Which idiot thought of that?

I didn’t have it as bad as the single parents, though. An irritation for me, a complicated connected hell for single mothers.

Everything was connected, so if you had a fidgety kid at school that day, you got an automatic fractional WIC deduction as parenting punishment. We had DeVos to thank for that one.

It was all easily fixed, though.

Send some bitcoins to the right address and someone – probably in China – would fix everything for you. Only for 24 hours, mind. Not a good business model, otherwise. Same as it ever was, just figure out who to pay to grease the tubes. In the meantime there was easy if boring work if you wanted it. All those smartlights needed a hard reboot thanks to a daily buffer overflow Essentially you’d get paid to take a walk and say hello to all the lampposts. A morning connected constitutional.

I felt sorry for the kids as I walked past the park. All the play structures were smart now, promising to add NikeFuel to each kid’s score. They’d single out the pudgier and hawk NikeFuel points to them, blinking their names in a disencouraging display. NIKE FUEL BONUS FOR JASON. They got hacked too.

“JASON ATE ALL THE PIES” it would flash, later.

Pity the single dad who took his kids to the park on an access day though. If he hadn’t paid his support, all the play structures locked up:

”PLAYGROUND DISABLED. SUPPORT YOUR FAMILY, BRIAN. $632 OUTSTANDING. PAY WITH  PAY OR SQUARE NOW.”

The other parents and kids scowled at Brian. He just turned around and took his kids with him. Ten seconds after they left, the playground unlocked.

So yeah, our connected city’s great. We’ve never been happier.

If you’d like more, the internet-short-fiction-stuff will continue whenever my brain chemistry allows at http://tinyletter.com/umbra where the tiny fanbase for the other thing I wrote can slowly accumulate like operations on a useless blockchain.

Cheers until something has caught my attention,

Dan