<body> Public Ad Campaign: Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge Finalists Announced
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge Finalists Announced

The finalists for the Reinvent Payphones design challenge have been announced and their proposals can be seen [HERE]. All but one of the 6 finalists proposed what is essentially an interactive information kiosk. I obviously love the idea of repurposing NYC payphones for better uses and would be excited to see NYC's broken phones wrapped in advertising, converted to relevant digital kiosks that help people navigate their city and interact with it on some very basic levels. Whether or not any of these proposals will be carried out as they are shown at this stage of the design process, one cannot say. These are in fact just vague proposals with few real world restrictions and no mention of budgets, or other pertinent issues.

That said, while all of the proposals suggest that the kiosks will be widely used for way finding, internet access, phone calls, emergency response and other relevant pedestrian needs in the 21st century, none go into quite as much detail as the I/0 proposal by none other than TITAN360. In case you dont know, Titan360 if an OOH advertising company that has a huge stake in the phonebooth inventory around NYC, collecting ad revenue from a lions share of the 11,000 plus remaining booths. They seem to have taken this contest the most seriously, producing a glossy 5 minute video to explain how I/0 and the average citizen will interact.
Tasked with what sounds like reinventing Titan Media in general, Dave Etherington, puts in some facetime to explain just how revolutionary the Titan360 reinvention will be. At minute 3:10 Dave explains how the I/0 facade has the same potential to be used by a major brand as it does by a local mom and pop shop. Generously, he explains that mom and pop shops cant afford the front page of the NY Times, or an ad slot in the Super Bowl, but somehow can afford the price of advertising on these new, innovative, Titan 360 owned, ad kiosks. I dont see how this new digital kiosk will differ in pricing from the traditional phonebooth, but if history is our guide, the transition to digital always comes with higher revenue for those selling ad space.

But that isn't the point, we shouldnt be talking about price points at all because at minute 2:20 Titan360 suggests (visually at least) that these kiosks will be open for public usage in unprecedented ways. By showing a young girl posting a hand drawn picture of her lost kittens through an internet connected device, Titan360 is suggesting that these reinvented phonebooths will be free for the public to use for their own purposes. (Unless that little girl is being charged a service fee, which I dont bleieve is implied) It is a wild and unprecedented suggestion that can only really be made in this new digital age. Could we all have some level of curatorial access to a piece of visual public infrastructure?

What if, instead of the multinational corporate iconography that makes every place the same place, NYC's kiosks of the future culled public content and an array of local data so that the kiosks not only served the needs of the community but reflected a neighborhoods personal identity through the aggregation of locally relevant personal content. Titan360 suggests, and visualizes this possibility for us in their video and if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. The likelihood that Titan360, a massive OOH company, would invest in infrastructure that they wouldn't use for paid media content is ludicrous and I fear the little girl in this video will never find her kittens.

But all joking aside, an open and democratically share public visual environment isn't a pipe dream. Titan360, or any other company for that matter, is only allowed to implement their ideas on our public streets with our approval. Demanding an ad free public environment and better yet, a locally relevant messaging hub for our communities, is our duty as citizens trying to live in the best place we can possibly imagine.

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Blogger The Rev said...

the single best attempt to reinvent the pay phone... I pay for my cell phone...


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