This skit from “Burnistoun,” the comedy sketch show broadcast by BBC Scotland, reminds me of all the devices that, at first, seem like marvelous inventions, but still need work. An example is a recent exchange with that annoying automated iPhone twit, Siri. She keeps calling me “Del-fiend-E,” even though I’ve corrected her multiple times. Last week I asked Siri for the cross street of Gump’s, San Francisco’s venerable luxury home décor and jewelry store. Everybody in the Bay Area knows the 150-year-old Gump’s — except Siri. She said, “There are three dumps in San Francisco, which one do you want?” I enunciated more slowly, spelling out G-u-m-p-’s. She ignored me and started telling me the addresses of the local dumps. I finally asked a passerby for directions.
Complex technological concepts can be intimidating and daunting to most people, which is why this animated diagram is so appealing. Directed and produced by Buck/Antfood for the NYTimes.com, the video uses simple geometric shapes and a soft palette of colors to explain how the turbine-free wind power technology proposed by Dr. Francis Moon of Cornell University works. In just one minute and three seconds, it explains the problem, solution and advantages of turbine-free wind power. The more traditional way of telling the story may have been through photographs of wind farms, industrial shots of real turbines, disturbing images of maimed birds, graphs of wind velocity in urban areas, a detailed explanation of how the mechanism produces power through a grid of pads that attach to piezoelectric materials, yada yada. Instead, this animation tells a seamless story in a cinematic way.