The POINT of a Hundred Points of Light

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I really must take control of the morning coffee-browse, because it invariably sends me off down rabbit trails other than the intentional path I thought I was going to take, and really should have gotten right on, first thing.

This 2 minute performance here falls into the SuperBowl Halftime Show Glitter and Tinsel category for visual hyperbole and self-promotion on the part of Intel.

They supplied and software-power and choreographed the hundred light-bearing drones. In the end, it was all about them, and as I watched mesmerized, I saw too that this is a harbinger of LIVING ADS and SKY BILLBOARDS to come with such ubiquity and scale that this current Guinness Record will seem charming and quaint in its underachievement.

Watch it, I suggest. Go full screen. And see if you feel the same  ambivalence as I did.

Look at what  the creativity and ingenuity and technologies of our species have accomplished! Fitting that the light show be accompanied by a live orchestra playing “classical” music whose qualities make it ever-lasting on a human scale of the generations it has bridged. At first blush, it seemed appropriate to wed visual fireworks with the acoustic explosions of the Fifth Symphony. And then it seemed in bad taste.  I dunno. Roll over, Beethoven.

We are capable of playing in perfect harmony and synchrony off the same page. We can use technology for good, even if sometimes in lavishly expensive and silly and self-serving ways. We are the “paragon of animals” I suppose after all.

But as much as I did not want to peer beyond the glitz and tinsel display and the majesty of the music, I found myself wondering what will be the ultimate future for drones at the service of those who don’t want to create order or beauty or meaning or well-being. Yet another two-edged technology in our prehensile early post-Cro-Magnon hands.

There are drones droning on on both sides of the cultural divide, just as there are guns and scalpels, generals and ad execs.

The planet is at least an interesting place to live. And we can and must set our expectations high. So enjoy the pretty lights dancing to the music.  It truly is impressive. And yet…

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I am sure it is true that the same drones can be used for good or for evil, but isn’t that the case with all technology today? I thought it was fantastic.

  2. I know it took genius and unimaginable funds to do this, so I hope all that will have some truly life-enhancing application. I may be old-fashioned, but give me fireworks any day!

  3. Not impressed. It was just another advertising gimmick. I’ve seen better and much more impressive exhibitions at several Sound & Lights shows in Europe.

  4. More impressive effects w lasers only, yep I’ve seen that. Guess it is the 100 drones doing the heavy lifting that is technologically if not aesthetically impressive to me, and then it is a stunt for Intel after that.