Thursday, March 01, 2007

De signis

Cambridge is not the easiest place in the world to find your way around. The colleges, faculties, departments, lecture rooms and halls are dotted around the city in a more or less haphazard fashion. So perhaps it's a good thing that some bright spark has decided to put some new signs in the Sidgwick Site, where most of the arts and humanities faculties are to be found. Unfortunately, these signs are not particularly successful at pointing you in the right direction... First, they are not easy to spot or read. Perhaps there was a trade-off between their being visible and prominent and their being aesthetically pleasing. In that case, the latter seems to have won. Here's an example (complete with ghostly reflection of me taking the picture, if you squint hard enough):

I quite like the look of it, actually. Like an Attic stele with cheery non-serif fonts. But you'll walk into it at least once before you spot that it's a sign. Here's the next problem. The signs seems only to be able to have arrows pointing dead left or dead right. In the one above, if you want to find the Faculty of Classics, you are pointed straight left. But that's not where the Faculty is. Here is the same sign from the opposite side. Now you are pointed dead right. You might have to click on this to be able to read it. But otherwise, just take my word for it. It says: 'Faculty of Classics →'.

But the Faculty of Classics is the building right behind the sign. Go through the doors under the white sign and you're in. Not really where the arrow points at all.

I reckon this will just cause more confusion than just letting people blunder around asking for friendly help. Bad directions are worse than no directions at all.

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