HB 2757’s passage in the Senate is a no-brainer. Not because the bill makes sense, but rather because the bill was heavily lobbied for by Clear Channel Outdoor, a subsidiary of media giant Clear Channel, as well as one of the world’s biggest suppliers of outdoor advertising. Coincidentally enough, CCO is based out of Phoenix, AZ, a fact that pretty much converts their lobbying dollar into $2 from anyone else.
Long story short: get used to those rapidly changing HD billboards telling you about all the hot slots at the local casino, and say goodbye to those amazing Arizona sunsets you used to be able to see.
The forces of dark are squaring off against the forces of light in a battle over billboard legislation.
On the side of light — as in vivid, flashing color — is the electronic-billboard industry. It is pushing a bill that would make 70 existing digital billboards along Arizona’s highways legal in the wake of a state Court of Appeals ruling.
The forces of darkness are led by Arizona’s observatories and astronomy industry. They want a statewide standard to ensure “dark skies” protections for areas within a 75-mile radius of observatories.
Since when was astronomy an industry? I suppose if there are enough people based there making telescopes that might be justified, but it seems like odd language. Mind you, it’s the language used in an opinion piece by Angela Cotera, a research astrophysicist at the SETI Institute in Avondale, arguing against the law. Anyway, returning to the original article:
Billboard companies approached lawmakers for a change to state law after the Appeals Court last fall ruled electronic billboards did not comply with the state’s ban on intermittent light.
Meanwhile, this seems a bit surprising:
The Discovery Channel, which is building a new telescope southeast of Flagstaff near Happy Jack, told lawmakers that the limits would help ensure dark skies. Its imaging camera “will be sensitive to even minute increases in sky glow.”
When did TV stations start building telescopes?
The Legislature has unaccountably passed a bill that threatens a unique and precious Arizona asset: our dark skies. Gov. Jan Brewer needs to veto it.
and goes on to say
In this intensely competitive economy, Arizona is fortunate to have a major advantage in astronomy and optics. Our clear, dark nights offer a world-class view of the universe. Arizonans count on Gov. Brewer to protect them. Gov. Brewer should push the off switch on HB 2757.
South By Southwest this year was plagued by QR codes. The two-dimensional pixel squares seemed to be anywhere that was even vaguely flat: on plenty of posters, but also on t-shirts and the sides of buildings. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were even temporarily tattooed on people’s arms.
I’m sure that this will be the high point of QR codes, though. The thing is: they don’t work. Not technically, but socially: I didn’t see anyone scan one in, and neither did anyone else I’ve asked. (Did you? Call now for your reward: some QR code scanning software!) After all, when you’re running between breakfast tacos, panels, lunch, talks, barbecue, cocktails and beer, the last thing you want to do is stand around and wait thirty seconds - or more - waiting for your phone to figure out what the URL you’re looking at is.
Even in Japan - where QR codes are still common - they’re dying out, at least in the obvious use case of encoding a URL, which (as the article points out) had special challenges. In the US, where you can have a nice, memorable URL, they make almost no sense at all. If you want your company to be a mystery, great, but obscurity is probably more likely than people saying “I found out about Product X through this exciting code!”
Next year, the fad will have ebbed. There’s one possible reason that won’t happen: if Apple adds QR code reading to the Camera application (as opposed to just an API method) then it might be even worse. Really, though, I hope they quietly die off.