programmable elevator messages--why bother?

I found myself briefly today in the very fancy elevators of the very fancy Skyline Tower in Bellevue to drop in on a Very Fancy Law Firm, which shall remain nameless as it is guiltless in this episode.

While ascending, I happened to glance up at the elevator message line, which displays information like a stock ticker machine. Now, the stock ticker machine is an interesting piece of outmoded technology in and of itself, but what caught my eye is that this particular ticker was saying, "Glorify...Praise..." as my eye fell upon it.

For a giddy moment I thought that perhaps the elevator's microchips had a Goddess Detection Meter, then came to my senses and kept watching the ticker for the Rest of the Story, as Paul Harvey might abjure. The Skyline Tower ticker cycled around, mundanely enough, through the time and date (conveniently provided for those not already alert and oriented x 2) the outside temperature, and, strangely enough, the elevator's Word of the Day (I am not making this up): "exalt." Glorify and praise were simply part of the definition of exalt.

When I returned to the office, having made in my estimation enough money for the day, I began investigating the waste of technology that overly customizable elevator messages appear to constitute. What possible use is a "Word of the Day" in an elevator, unless it's something truly obscure, like usufructuary? Now that's a word.

I was interested to be informed that custom written messages are not ADA-compliant. Those bings that an elevator makes are called "floor passing tones" and are intended for the visually-impaired who cannot read the floor number display (which appeared in Skyline Tower directly above the customized ticker display). I wonder if the Very Fancy Law Firm knows (or cares) that its building is not ADA-compliant?

It turns out that providing supplementary elevator content is, unfortunately, a trend. In the vanguard of elevator information overload is an enterprising company in Westford, Massachusetts, that puts flat-screen monitors with local content in high rise elevators. This is going well beyond the ticker tape information I originally set forth to find.

By the way, I looked up Otis Elevator Co., expecting them to be a voice of reason, to discover that it is now a subsidiary of United Technologies, which seems to own every company that General Electric doesn't. Perhaps not coincidentally, Otis provided no information about elevator media. Are they lagging behind--or using technology sensibly?

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