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.

Blogging on the beach

… just because I can, and because it’s five years to the day since my first mobile clog [t9 sic] post. Equipment used: 1 Nokia 30something, running series 40, Opera Mini, 1 ladybird print beach tent (does not provide protection against rain), sand in shoes.

Update 12/9/2006: We’ve been back for two weeks now and I probably still have sand in my shoes. The ladybird print tent is still taking up space on our bedroom floor because we can’t wrestle it back into its little sleeve to put away for next year. But this is a serious point (I knew I’d get there in the end): My mobile is virtually unusable for text browsing in broad daylight. And it’s not helped by the fact that Opera Mini highlights text links in white text on a blue background, even though the main navigation on my WordPress dashboard is made up of – yup, you guessed – white text on a very subtly different shade of blue background. Now everything’s bright, nothing’s clear.