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July 03, 2012

Weather Signal: Info Reduction with Sponsored Shiny Objects

The lights on top of the Gulf Tower have been used to communicate the weather forecast for years. In its previous version - the way things used to be (U2B) - the forecast was indicated by two signal channels, color (blue/orange) and light (steady/blinking), as shown below:

This was a great service, it let people know what the future was likely to hold in terms of both temperature and precipitation. For the downtown workers who could see the beacon, it answered the questions: Will I need gloves? An umbrella? It provided information that people needed and could act upon.

The new and improved beacon, known as the KDKA Weather Beacon and dedicated July 4, 2012, will use a multi-color display to communicate existing conditions - that is, what the weather is right now, as shown below.

We do not wish to seem churlish, but we would point out that anybody who can see the beacon can tell what the current conditions are without decoding the signal. The new presentation uses glitzy LED eco-tech to convey less valuable information, telling you about now instead of the future.

Why would KDKA be associated in a glitzy reduction of information into data points? Oh, that's right — KDKA makes money by selling advertisements wrapped around their televised weather forecast, and the old beacon system was giving the forecast away for free.

But then again, the new beacon will blink for home runs and touchdowns at Three Rivers Stadium the two NorthShore stadiums. Here we go Steelers, Here we go!


LRod said...

Seems like they aren't much better than the good old Weather Rock

Also, why am I disturbed to find a creepy similarity to the Faux News Terror Alert system?

ZJX, ORD, ZAU retired

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