NYTimes: “Driven to Distraction”

The way I feel about many Web2.0 advancements can be traced back to a lesson my mother told me when I was young, earning some of my first few dollars mowing the lawn. As I was handed $5, I dreamed my first $5 to go towards 2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ice cream bars and a fun-sized bag of FunYuns. Dreams that my mother had hoped to have dashed away when she tried to enstill fiscal responsibility in a petulant 8 year old such as myself. “Just because you have money, doesn’t mean you have to use it” she said…

I didn’t listen. And I got one of the more traumatic tummyaches I’ve had in my lifetime. I learned my lesson.

NYTimes.com sported this article on its website today, addressing the potential dangers digital billboards create on the road. I know this is a psuedo-departure from what we normally discuss in Digital Media Ethics class or on Ethix2.0, but I believe this story tackles issues that are very pertinent and characteristic of the Web2.0 Society we live in today.

There are measures in place that fight texting or talking on cell phones. There’s even a law prohibiting roadside signs to have intermittent and/or flashing lights. A silver bullet does not exist for these kinds of dangers that function as distractions, but I do believe they do serve the common good.

With that in mind, I side with the critics who call this new form of outdoor advertising “television on a stick.” There are benefits to having a digital billboard feature live headlines, sports score tickers, and “missing person” alerts. Homo sapiens got by fine without this technology eons before the first digital sign showed up in Times Square.

The sophistication of digital billboards is not lost on me. As tempting as it may seem, the benefits don’t seem to outweigh the cons side for me. I feel this is too much. No thank you, ClearChannel and Lamar. I think I’ve had enough advertising today. Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we need to use it.

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One thought on “NYTimes: “Driven to Distraction”

  1. The new advertisements are certainly distracting, but as you acknowledge about today’s digital world, they probably aren’t going away. Much like other technologies have pushed the envelop, I’m afraid that with money being a motivating factor these advertisements will only grow more and more complex until tragedy strikes. A society runs these risks when capitalism largely drives its decision-making. I could see these ads cropping up in other major metropolises in the near future.

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