Content conundrum

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I begin this post with the notation that in spite of a May 2011 blog entry entitled Constant conundrums, the similar title of this post is not intended to imply a continuation or sequel.

I will also note that I’m well aware my blogging activities have waned to near nonexistence, as evidenced by just a single post in 2020 and this post which quite possibly could be my only post for 2021.

With preambles completed, here comes the original inspiration of this entry—folks, please stop abusing methods of communication for information that doesn’t belong.

Scenario 1: you pull up to a gas station needing to fill up your car. You want to check the price, but instead of prices, the sign only displays the time and temperature. The only way to find out the price is to walk inside and ask the attendant.

Scenario 2: you visit a new restaurant and, upon being seated, are handed what you assume to be the menu. But when you open up the booklet, it contains nothing but ads for various nearby businesses and a few pictures of meals the restaurant serves—no prices, names, descriptions, etc. Turns out, you’re just expected to talk to the wait staff about what you want, and the staff will guide you into your selection and tell you how much it will cost.

Scenario 3: you decide out of the blue to see a movie at a theatre that you know is just up the road a bit. You approach the plaza and look for the marquee to see what movies are playing, but instead of titles, you just see a message inviting you to enjoy the newly installed recliner seats. By the way, unlike the first two scenarios, this one isn’t a work of fiction. Proof.

The 4th scenario I’ll describe (which, again, is not fiction) was the motivator for this post:

Originally developed in the 1970s, a system now known as Radio Data System (RDS) uses a small bit of the bandwidth that each FM radio station is allocated. RDS carries data at the rate of 1,187.5 bits per second and came about primarily to display station information or emergency alerts.

Today, practically everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has come to expect RDS to show the name the artist and song they are currently listening to. However, in the age of advertisers using absolutely every single nook and cranny they possibly find to inject their propaganda, RDS seems to be the latest target.

I am specifically calling out Magic 107.7 for abusing this system, and Rubenstein Law for pretty much literally being the only thing Magic 107.7’s RDS ever displays.

My point: regardless how important a message is, there are some communication venues where certain kinds of information patently do not belong.

Price per gallon info is the ONLY information that should be on a gas station sign, along with the name of the station.

Food options, descriptions, and prices is the ONLY information that should be in a restaurant menu (well okay, some ads may be okay, but not in replacement of the food information).

Movie titles are the ONLY information that should be on a theater marquee.

And, for the love of Pete, if you want to put an ad in RDS while audio commercials are playing, then fine, but when the song is playing, I don’t want to see a law firm’s phone number, I want to see the song title and singer!

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