In a few weeks, the city of Philadelphia will celebrate Tech Week by playing the world’s largest game of Pong, ever. For someone my age, this is an event not to be missed. I’m no gamer, but like many who grew up with Pong (then Atari), I vividly remember the endless hours spent in front of our small black and white television set. Also, let’s not forget Pong’s innovative hand-held version, Blip. Now that was modernization, 70s style. In fact, we played these games for so long that we’d hear the “blipping” sound in our heads for hours. I think I can hear it again now…
What’s always interesting to me, as someone who identifies as a technology PR professional, is how we wrestle with celebrating an important technology milestone or anniversary, without simultaneously “looking old.”
Smart communicators know how to balance this. They can demonstrate forward-looking innovation without too much reliance on relics of the past. IBM100 was one such campaign: a creative blend of ideas, events and messaging. And just last week, the cell phone turned 40 (can you believe it?). I loved Mashable’s infographic CELL-EBRATION. It was a good mix of history and modern lifestyle changes brought about by mobile technologies. Both campaigns, while different in scope and purpose, helped mark the importance that each technology has had in our lives, in their own way.
So, is Philadelphia getting it right with a 29-story LED game of Pong? Yes, I think so. Pong may be considered ‘old’ gamer technology, but it’s nostalgic and a piece of our culture. Not to mention, Pong’s developer is a professor at Drexel University — what an honor to see his innovation on a local stage that’s much more impressive than our old 19-inch B&W television.
Finally, as a challenge to the rest of America’s cities, I dug into my old toy closet to collect a few other items I’d personally like to see honored. Which city will be brave enough celebrate their own Tech Week with a life-size or mobile version of my big button telephone? A digital PayPass version of my coin counter? The world’s largest game of waterful ring toss? An interactive or 3D version of Spirograph?
Happy Innovation, and Happy Tech Week to the city of Philadelphia.