In the new year I returned to the UK after living abroad for thirteen years or so. When I left, lifts (and buildings generally, for that matter) did not talk to you and there were not notices on every piece of wall, ground or implement that has any remote chance of harm, however unlikely. I was in Edinburgh this weekend for the Plenitude and Emptiness conference (very enjoyable) and was put up in a hotel where there were warning signs on the taps that they contained hot water! Then the lift would tell you not only which floor you were in but gave a running commentary on the status of the doors. I wonder what foreigners make of the British, needing their every move to be explained to them? Of course, I understand why this has happened, but given that these signs or instructions have become ubiquitous I was also wondering what other instructions might be placed on architecture to make another sense of it, a little in the way that written instructions adorn military ‘planes. (See earlier posts on Written Instructions).
We’re probably far worse than this in the US with the notable exception of guns, which seem to be harmless compared to plumbing.
Maybe the Japanese are loosing their nerve, too. I bought a Japanese amplifier directly from Japan, so the manual was in Japanese only. One of the the first pages had a cartoon illustration showing an audio enthusiasts in the shower with his proud new purchase – a big cautionary red slash over the drawing.