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Why interactive poetry beats interactive fiction
Attention, passengers! A few days ago, commuters on Toronto’s GO train looked up at the onboard pixellated advertising signs and saw the message: “Stephen Harper eats babies”. Stephen Harper is, of course, Canada’s new conservative prime minister, and as a friend of Harper’s who saw the scrolling message told CTV …
“… I worked with Stephen Harper for five years and never once did he, in that time, eat a baby.”
Heh. Obviously, as the story points out, the sign had been hacked. And while the reporter doesn’t make it clear how the trick was accomplished, I think I can guess how it was done. A few years back, 2600 magazine published an article all about hacking pixelboard signs, and apparently the vast majority of these signs are programmed using an infrared keyboard. The keyboard is fairly standardized, and while the signs can be protected with a password, virtually none of the gormless businesspeople who use the signs ever bother to change the password from its factory-installed default — which is usually something like “password” or “admin” or “1234” or whatever.
It kind of makes me want to go buy an infrared keyboard and see what signs around Manhattan I can alter!
I'm Clive Thompson, a writer on science, technology, and culture. This blog collects bits of offbeat research I'm running into, and musings thereon.
Currently, I'm a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. I also write for Fast Company and Wired magazine's web site, among other places. Email or AOL IM me (pomeranian99) to say hi or send in something strange!
May 20, 2011 » 02:28 PM
From Christopher Kennedy’s very droll book “Neitzsche’s Horse”.
July 28, 2010 » 07:35 AM
“Wr” - S
July 06, 2010 » 10:05 AM
My Xbox broke, and I was trying to Google some possible technical solutions, when I noticed that Google appears to be encouraging me to make a typo. I suppose it’s possible that Google’s algorithms know that typing “wont” instead of “won’t” would produce better results.
June 29, 2010 » 05:00 PM
On the other hand, when I tried the test for multitasking, I was pretty abysmal. I performed worse than people who identify themselves as heavy multitaskers, and those who identify as low multitaskers.
June 29, 2010 » 04:58 PM
I finally got around to trying out the interactive “test your distractability and multitasking” page at the New York Times, which they put up alongside their story earlier this month about how computer distractions are eroding our lives.
According to the test, I guess I have good focus — I’m not very distractable!
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