Last week, I saw a young man setting up a stand with a video monitor – in the rain, in front of Waterfront Station, at rush hour with thousands of commuters flowing into the transit hub.
The brightness of the monitor grabbed the eye; the sound was loud and assaulted the ear. The content was, I think, about animal cruelty in the production of food, and some of the images were pretty rough.
The young man wasn’t saying anything; he was there to talk with people attracted by the TV. It was very effective – and a very bad idea.
Yes, freedom of speech and all that. But once again technology changes the terms: do people have the right not to be pummeled in the public realm with images and noise that fills the space in a way that the human voice cannot?
And what happens when more than one advocate – maybe two, maybe more – set up competing attractions and an arms race begins: bigger, louder, more intrusive?
Don’t know whether this is legal or not. But the use of augmenting technology shouldn’t be.