Sunday, August 19, 2012

Item From the Past: Everywhere a Sign

I've read speculation that someday outdoor signs as we know them will be quaint relics, or be gone all together, because your GPS cloud gizmo is going to tell you all the information you need about a particular place in granular detail. In this country, anyway, here's how it would play out: as complete connectivity spread down the income scale deep into the middle class, budgets to install and maintain physical signs would shrink and disappear, since only poor people and eccentrics would need physical signs.

The infrastructure of signs would, decade by decade, disappear. Much would be lost, and only poor people and eccentrics would care. Which means, in practical terms, that no one would care.

Fortunately, I don't expect to live to see such a nightmare. For now, I'll take notice of signs. The more unusual, the better. Last year in Washington I snapped pics of a few odds ones. Such as this one at a parking lot not from from the U.S. Capitol.

This one warned thirsty passersby that the water of the Tidal Basin would do you wrong if you drank it, and I don't doubt it. I suppose the Tidal Basin counts as a finger of the Potomac, hence "river."

And this is one of the more imperious signs I saw in the city, at the pedestrian crosswalk on Connecticut Ave., just in front of the National Zoo.

How would a sign like this work in a world in which people depended on GPS gizmos to know where they were at all times? Would it blare out a DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON sort of warning? That might be amusing. Once.

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