LED Graffiti Causes panic

The Graffiti Research Lab pointed out that electronics are nearly as cheap as paint these days, but it took a panic in Boston (and maybe some reckless PR, but who knows) to give it widespread recognition:

More than 10 blinking electronic devices planted at bridges and other spots in Boston threw a scare into the city Wednesday in what turned out to be a publicity campaign for a late-night cable cartoon. Most if not all of the devices depict a character giving the finger.
(from the Chron)

(from Flickr)

Here's a closeup:

I think it's interesting, although not surprising, that the authorities took these to be a bomb. Electronics are black boxes (especially when they're in black boxes), so it's easy to project the worst anxieties onto them when you don't know otherwise. And, frankly, you don't and in a society full of anxiety, it's not surprising that the Boston authorities overreacted. It's probably like when the first person painted the first bad word on a water tower with a paint roller: shocking and the talk of the town, but it eventually becomes commonplace. Maybe in a few years, when LED graffiti has become, ahem, ubiquitous and anything made of steel has cluster of expired LEDs, cheap batteries and rare earth magnets stuck on it this won't be a big deal, but right now it's a sign of the times...and a sign of the future.

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on January 31, 2007 4:43 PM.

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