As I am out with the dog each morning, I run past this post, the last resort of lost cat notices and grass cutting solicitations. It is invariably empty of such notices. With the advent of listservs and Yahoo groups, the electronic bulletin board has replaced the neighborhood-centered kiosk or simple light post as the nexus of hyper-local communication. Ironically, smart phone apps are hastily adding as much GPS driven location information as they possibly can to link information to place in the same way as this humble post did without much fanfare.
Electronic bulletin boards may free our streetscapes from visual clutter, but they struggle to activate the imagination in quite the same way. When I see the lost cat notice (or lost tortoise like I saw the other day?!), I almost always automatically look around to see if the missing animal is possibly just sitting there waiting to be noticed. I don't know why I do this, but it happens almost every time. Conversely, when I get yet another email telling about the same missing cat, I groan at the prospect of yet another email and it is forgotten as quick as I can hit delete.
Not that I like screaming billboards or obnoxious signs, but there is something lost in the shift from the mass appeal of these kind of posted notices and the private communication of emails and texts. Maybe it is the sense of a locale that is engender by these little signs, the notion that some little kids are missing their Fluffy, that makes a neighborhood in a way that no collection of emails ever can.