Simulacra and Simulation: Split-Flap Display Replaced With High Fructose Corn Syrup

But to some, the big board's inherent mediocrity was part of what they found so endearing:

It is a monolith with human imperfections. "That's the weird, nostalgic, terrible thing that I like in the building," Karen Vanderbilt, 33, said as she stared at the board while waiting for the track posting for her delayed train to Washington.

Perhaps that affection is stoked by a little bit of Stockholm syndrome in the cramped station, a Stygian den of low ceilings, stale air and confusing tunnels. "Your only hope of getting out of there is staring up at this one little board," Mr. Rabinowitz said. "You wait in this room and look up at your captor and hope it will let you go."

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6 Responses:

  1. gggeek says:

    I have seen many stations, airports etc in the EU replacing the "mother of all display boards", which hung usually in the central hall in a very visible position, with scads of 21 inch lcd screens scattered all across the place.
    Almost invariably, the end result is that it is harder to find that vital bit of information, as a) you never know where the monitor closest to you is located, and b) the monitor being small, it has to do more pagination to display all the info, making you wait a long time. Sometimes the developers even go "creative", and try out new layouts for the information, which I am really sure is much appreciated by everyone dashing to their platform in a hurry.
    In Italy's train stations the situation is bad beyond belief: tracks, halls and corridors have been littered for years with hundreds of screens that only display ads (with sound of course), and never display any travel-related information.
    So, no nostalgia for Solari devices here, just standard grumpiness of end users who think that the future is taking a turn for the worse...

  2. You didn’t succeed in buying it for the club, did you.

  3. Bob Jones says:

    That's awful. Why not just blank out the changing rows, or fade them through (slow then fast)?

    I'm not sure if this is an example of UI design by programmer, or UI design by absolute idiots in transport authorities not being shown a quick demo of what their awful idea would look like.

  4. MattyJ says:

    If only there was some way to distill and digest this information from a handheld supercomputer of some sort.

    • Pavel says:

      Fuck that. I mean, yes, make it available via some web interface (or, god forbid, an app) - but if my phone is dead, or I don't own one, doesn't mean I should be running around the terminal begging for scraps of information like an Edwardian street urchin.

  5. Owen W. says:

    If your nostalgia runs a little more recent than mechanical signage, you can wait in the lower tunnel where the lovely fuzzy burnt-in CRTs aren't going away.

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