published at 12:09pm on 09/21/12
I’ve been spending a lot of time in Washington Square Park lately.
It’s a really nice park, recently renovated and not ruined the way we had all feared it was going to be. There is a nice fountain in the middle, there are benches around the fountain, and there are a good number of people always sitting, eating, reading, singing and dancing in that center area around the fountain. And yesterday, there was a balloon. Sitting on the edge of the fountain, I watched as the giant green balloon dipped up and down, brushing past trees and the arch leading to Fifth Avenue, grazing past the flagpole and just gently slipping past the lamp posts. The balloon was attached to a string, and the string was attached to a young man who was deftly maneuvering the balloon around the park. Suspended under the balloon was a cradle, and in the cradle, what looked like a digital camera.
A mapping project.
Speaking to the two students who were responsible for the balloon, I learned that it was a project for a class at Parsons, in conjunction with Intel and IBM. I’m curious to see the footage that they gathered, and to see the results of the project and how it relates to Grassroots Mapping (which I know about through my involvement with the Awesome Foundation, which recently funded a related project).
But the most remarkable thing about the balloon, was just how unremarkable the rest of the visitors to the park found it. Though they did gather a small crowd who took an active interest in the path of the balloon, gasping as it dove down toward the fountain and cheering as it cleared the trees, the rest of the New York paid it no mind at all, stepping over or under the string as it blocked their paths, and simply ignoring the two kids running around the park chasing the big, green balloon.
Nothing is remarkable in New York City, which is, in itself, remarkable.
Filed under: Observations