Take the Postal Way Home
From the post office in Middlebury Vermont, I said goodbye to the Casio camera and mailed it to its owners in Germany. I hope it has a safe an uneventful trip, and soon is sharing its memories with the family that lost it in Toronto.
To summarize, the experiment in the web / social media being able to find the owners did fail – or maybe I am just not connected enough? I spread the word via my twitter network (6000+ followers), Facebook, LinkedIn, my own blog, and this web site where I posted about 12 og the photos. I listed the camera in two different Camer Lost web sites. The only suggestion I did not follow was using Reddit.
This site got over 7000 views and I had a number of people spread the word in Germany, where we had determined the family came from. Visitors to the site figured out the exact itinerary of the family’s plane flight over and a few other tidbits (see What We Know).
As to my original plan, I gave this experiment 2 weeks, and afterwards removed the photos from this web site.
In the end it was a little photo detective work; After visits in places obviously in Chicago, a photo showed an RV at a Cruise America office; and an add for a mechanic in the background made it easy to locate the office in Google Maps. I called the office, and a nice man named Brian offered to share my contact information with the people who rented it (he said it was not as direct as knowing the vehicle’s license plate).
Eventually I got a phone call from the woman who owned the camera, and after a few bouts of bad email guessing (pitfalls of reading email addresses over the phone) I was able to contact her and get her mailing address.
It is on its way home today.
This was an experiment in the power (or lack) of our digital connections. I still believe in its potential, but it is by no means a guarantee, and the connections are not as neat as diagrams of sticks connecting nodes.
Telephone 1, Internet 0.