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Thursday, February 1, 2007
Son of Mooninite!
Make that Father of Mooninite: One of the aspects of this Mooninite scare that intrigues me is the origin and actual name of these infamous devices -- described awkwardly, by the Globe, the Times, and other news outlets as "small, lighted cartoon figures," "battery-powered lights," "electronic boards," "illuminated plastic figures," "signs," "magnetic devices," "the devices, which included circuit boards," "the devices, dotted with blue, purple, or white lights," and so forth. (Vanderlin, the blogger I mentioned last night, told the Globe: "It's not so threatening -- it's a Lite-Brite.") What exactly are they, anyway?
There was a clue embedded at the very end of the Mooninite-device-installation video created by the guerrilla marketers Interference Information Network: "Inspired by the brilliant creativity of the Graffiti Research Lab." Now, the GRL is an outfit that provides graffiti artists (not marketing outfits) with open-source technologies customized to help them do what graffiti artists do. GRL has posted a note on their website:
You may have heard about the most recent terror attacks in Boston. This is NOT the work of the Graffiti Research Lab.... It's Just more mindless corporate vandalism from a guerilla marketer who got busted. Interference Inc, welcome to the world of being misunderstood, scapegoated, demonized and wanted by the law. Still wanna be a graffiti artist?
How did GRL inspire Interference? By inventing and promoting the use of the "LED Throwy," a device composed of an LED, a battery, and a magnet. See this GRL video, for a primitive example. Another GRL video shows more advanced models. They certainly make beautiful displays.
Here are some instructions on making your own LED Throwies, and another how-to from Make magazine -- that's the "open-source" part. The LEDs can be purchased on eBay, it seems usually from sources in China.
So there you have it. Fellow journalists: It's not a "battery-powered contraption," it's an LED Throwy. Let's get our facts straight.