Megan over at Overeducated and Underemployed is getting kinda freaked out by the rapidly expanding digital signage world. She asks:
[I]s it the future already? I didn’t think so, but the electronic billboards on nearby streets seem to indicate otherwise. And that scares me. Because when “they” show “the future” in movies and such, it’s never a happy place. It’s a place where we’re fighting robots, there’s no water left and advertisements are downloaded directly into our brains, along with secret government programs that transform us into super-assassins whenever we hear a key phrase.
Here’s the thing… Even though I’m knee-deep in this industry, I do see where Megan is coming from. In turn, I understand the similar arguments of Neil Postman … and Mary Shelley… and the Unabomber… uhmmm, I’ll stop there.
But, if digital signage is actually destroying human values as the robots march in (I’m paraphrasing here, M), what can turn this ship around?
Is this fear simply a residual effect of the analog to digital shift (which will ostensibly keep on shiftin’ for as far as the eye can see), or is it something more specific to this point in the continuum? Are we reaching a breaking point in the unceasing infiltration of advertisements into “our” outdoor space? Or is the discrete content and/or aesthetics of the billboards themselves exacerbating this cultural discomfort?
Are interactive (actually interactive, not simply “dynamic”) billboards more social… and thus, more authentically “human”?
In sum, I’m very interested to hear what readers think: What makes an out-of-home advertisement effective and entertaining and/or just plain creepy and unsettling? Do tell: Wherein lies the split?