Residents and commuters to New York of a certain age (and yes, Faithful Reader, I admit to being one) recall, albeit with increasing faintness, a feature of the city landscape known as the pay phone. Nowadays, of course, this is as extinct as the dodo bird. So the city is administering a coup de grace to it in the form of the kiosk here, which I photographed on Eighth Avenue, just north of the Port Authority Building, this past week.
LinkNYC is being promoted with all kinds of phrases with high-tech appeal: “cutting edge,” “wireless technology,” “interactive connectivity” and the like. Furthermore, according to its Web site, it won’t cost taxpayers a penny, as it will be paid for with proceeds from advertising.
Before we hail this leap into the digital future, though, some observers are worried. Some dread what’s to come: not just the replacement of aging, obsolete pay phones across the five boroughs, but the increasing presence of these kiosks beyond that. Others don’t like the kiosks’ height and bulkiness. But still others complain that the homeless are using these as new encampments; that drug dealers see these as facilitating their trade; and that the kiosks themselves can be used to collect intelligence on their users.
If this technology experiences enough growing pains, it will generate what is, in effect, a counter-technology to reduce difficulties arising from its use.