Thursday, February 08, 2007

NYC to ban PEDs outdoors?

New York City continues to make news, now with the proposed ban on pedestrian use of Portable Electronic Devices (PED – and you may have heard that HTA* here first).

A New York State Senator who shall remain mercifully nameless has proposed a ban on not just the headline-grabbing Podthing but on the whole Boysenberry/ cell phone/ video game/ palm-sized-home-theater gestault. It will be against the law to appear to be in a state of "iPod oblivion" while on a public thoroughfare.

General opinion goes well beyond mere disapproval, tending towards the slightly incredulous. At the end of this article by India’s, a commenter in California put it succinctly: “You can't fix stupid.”

Some predictable smirks in the headlines for a caper like this --

Lawmaker wants to outlaw street grooves said, stating the law will be for “fining pedestrians caught grooving to MP3 players while crossing the street.”

Move's afoot in NY to force iPod pedestrians to unplug
- Seattle Times, WA, where a a civil-liberties attorney suggests we also go ahead with ticketing people when they don’t look both ways before crossing.
(That's not a bad idea to consider, from all the angles, since the approaching saturation point of video surveillance, with software monitoring, will actually make that do-able.)

I mean, we did survive the Sony Walkman (or… did we, really?), an early, now-extinct species that once stalked the earth in great numbers. It bore a startling resemblance to a Pod, except that it was manually fed and the earbuds were inside-out.

It brings to mind a favorite quote of Opus (the Penguin, of course, Berke Breathed's subconscious voice): “Go away, you lawyers! Whatever happened to personal responsibility?”
( * - "High Tech Acronym," of course. And the PED thing is just a wisecrack, alright?)

But while e-jaywalking laws seem a stretch, the sense-saturating potency of all the devices we’re expected to carry around does create a situation that'll have to be dealt with. The story in Australian IT, discussing the two pedestrians who died after walking in front of moving vehicles, cites the fact that, “in one case bystanders screamed ‘watch out’ to no avail.”

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