[Humanist] 26.220 flashing lights and silent hoovers

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Aug 9 17:53:50 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 220.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2012 15:01:40 +0100
        From: Norman Gray <norman at astro.gla.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.216 flashing lights and silent hoovers
        In-Reply-To: <20120808134754.1FF37287190 at woodward.joyent.us>

On 2012 Aug 8, at 14:47, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

> We folklorists consider these kinds of narratives to be part of the larger set of legends wherein the nature of reality is tested in interesting ways. As for the nature of the lights themselves, the popular term among the geeks I knew was "der blinkenlighten." I'd be curious to know what other terms were used. (I especially liked the Germanification of the term in this case, giving it a kind of weird blend of camp and science and "German engineering" feel all at the same time.)

I remember that as "das Blinkenlights"; I'd hesitate to guess what the switch in gender connotes.

A long while ago -- OS 8 or OS 9 -- there was a shareware (?) application for the Mac called "Das BlinkenLights" (or "Das Blinken Lights"), which had no function other than to produce computerish blinking lights on the screen.  This was a sarcastic response to the suggestion that the Mac wasn't a 'real' computer because... well, it didn't look Hard enough (that links to your salty medicine example).

I can't now find a mention of this old application, because anything I google comes up with a host of more recent appropriations of the term.

And I hadn't thought of 'camp' as an attribute of whatever set of motifs this represents, but it's perfect!

Best wishes,


Norman Gray  :  http://nxg.me.uk
SUPA School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK

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