thinglets: Oh, the Blinking Lights

I remember, as a child, watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind and being in partial disbelief that any intelligent alien species could expect humans to derive message from the synthesized light show echoed by the mothership. (See video clip below if you have no idea what I'm talking about.) I'm starting to think that, alone at my desk, the concept of the blinking light has become a de facto medium that we derive a whole bunch of message from even though we do not realize it.

My television, cable box, and surround sound system all have a steady red light on to indicate they're off (a bit paradoxical don't you think?) My cable modem has alternating flashing and steady green and orange lights to indicate throughput and connection, and even in the dark without seeing or remembering the faint, small abbreviations underneath each light, I can usually determine the health of the connection. My wifi router has a more cosmic icon set of cerullean blue symbols of which I recognize the unclosed circle and vertical line indicating power and the radiating wifi waves, but there are several I have no clue about except that I think I would be able to tell if and when something bad was happening.

My monitor has a steady green and my mouse a steady red. The USB hub and microphone mixer are congruous in a solitary steady blue indicator. My USB microphone has a small rectangular steady red peering into my soul like the HAL9000 on a vision quest. The cordless phone a steady red. The PC, as a small solar system snapshot, of a large blue circle overtop the flashing smaller red circle which indicated hard drive workload.

All of this light, all of these icons, all of this meaning create a sort of inverse to Plato's cave analogy. If this room was bathed in ambient light the indicators would become less noticeable and lose some of their meaning. Instead, the darkness has focused the knowledge and the message.

I somehow have the urge to craft a model of a mountain from my mashed potatoes.