You likely have seen the push-to-cross buttons scattered across various crosswalks in NYC.
The functionality and effectiveness of these buttons is often challenged, and with good reason. The primary reason is because most of them are not even connected to the system that governs the traffic lights! As originally reported by the New York Times in 2004:
“…the city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals. More than 2,500 of the 3,250 walk buttons that were in place at the time existed as mechanical placebos.”
While thousands of NYC push-to-cross buttons are inactive, there are ~150 special new push-to-cross buttons. They are called Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APDs), and they look like this:
Unlike the crosswalk buttons of old, the primary purpose of APD’s are to help blind and low-vision pedestrians navigate crosswalks more safely. They also provide a legend to the 3 modes of the crosswalk light (from a visual management perspective, this seems unnecessary if not counter productive).
From the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), APDs are:
“wired to a pedestrian signal and send audible and vibrotactile indications when pedestrians push a button installed at the crosswalk.”
In other words, they vibrate upon touch, and also make the following audible noises:
A command to “Wait” every time the button is pressed when the cross light is red:
They are fun to complete, but what do you get when you collect them all? NOTHING. No compliments. Well I made one for budding numismatists among us, with the sweet sweet neurological reward of a blue light turning on upon completion:
Note: This post is in response to Soundwalk 9:09 by John Luther Adams; which “takes its title from the time it takes to walk between The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Breuer: nine minutes and nine seconds. The composition, in two parts ‘Uptown’ and ‘Downtown’.”
As a former student of apparent local celebrity Dan Phiffer, I am familiar with soundwalks overall, and selected this one for two reasons:
Because of its emphasis on mixing the sound in the walk with the sound in real-life: I mostly use headphones to block out the sound around me, not partially take it in. So this was a unique opportunity to experience the mix.
Because of the deliberate timing of the walk. I wanted to see if I could walk faster or slower than the soundwalk would assume. (Spoiler: it ended up taking 9 minutes both ways)
Turn the clocks back to 2011, and people are engaged in debates about whether Super Mash Bros. – the pinnacle of mashup artistry – are really making their own music or not.
It was clear the end-result songs produced by the Bros were ‘unique’ and original from either of the pieces they used. They had entirely different genres, vibes, tempos, etc. But for some it still wasn’t clear whether it was ‘original’ work just because it was unique.