Sous les pavés, la plage

The payphone has bluescreened…

Payphone, London King's Cross

… the departure board has 404ed…

Departure board at Edgware Road Tube Station

… the giant TV screen is somebody’s Windows desktop…

Big screen, Millennium Square, Leeds

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Since posting my three broken technology pictures, I’ve been suffering the blogger’s equivalent of what the French call “l’esprit de l’escalier,” and for which German has the deeply satisfying word “Treppenwitz”.

If I’d paused just a little longer before hitting the publish button, I’d have added a discussion of the optimistic message contained in every one of those man-behind-the-curtain snapshots.

I’d have waxed lyrical on how in every case the authorities’ intentions to constrain processing power to a single task – the kiosk, the departure board, the TV screen – were subverted by its very malfunctioning, revealing the endless possibilities implicit in this most malleable and interconnected technology.

If only I’d waited a while, I’d have told the story of how my seven-year-old son, on seeing an unattended till terminal in Ikea, grabs the mouse and tries to log on to Adventure Quest.

I’d have invoked the situationist May 68 slogansous les pavés, la plage” – “beneath the paving stones, the beach” – which speaks of the unconstrained liberty that lurks just below the locked-down surface of our civilisation.

And I’d have ended in an overblown flourish and a bold font: beneath the pixels, the silicon!

Probably just as well I didn’t.

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