In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, large black obelisks played an important part of the plot, and an important part in human evolution. The obelisks taught the first monkey to use tools and were once again present when the human race landed on the moon. If you want to get a feel for what those astronauts experienced, or what the monkey experienced, just head to Gangnam and go out exit 7.
What you'll find is a long line of 21 black obelisks marching off into the distance. Each one is 12 meters high and willing to teach you a new secret, from what is on the front page of today's paper, to where you can find the best sauna on Yahoo's mapping service. Some will even teach you the secret of how to send a digital postcard with your photo on it to your friends and family's email addresses. You can play several simple games with them as well. Or, if you want to figure out how to go to Itaewon, you can access subway and bus maps on their touchscreens. The obelisks, or Media Poles, even offer Wi-Fi access. And its all free.
There are also art installations on the opposite side of the obelisk from the touchscreen. The art is changed regularly and gives a pleasing atmosphere to what was once a very difficult street to walk.
The main avenue of Gangnam is a packed and busy thoroughfare. Up to 700,000 people can be seen there every day. That is the main reason that the street was chosen for this city project. The project, named Design Seoul Streets, is generally aimed at improving the appearance of Seoul, the country's capital, and reducing the amount of visual pollution that a pedestrian must see.
The whole project has cost W8.2 billion (US$6.5 million) so far, and has been spent to unify all signboards in Gangnam, change the trees, and remove street vendors. The Ubiquitous Media Street was the final touch in revamping Gangnam, and its purpose was to allow ubiquitous access to media right on the street.
The poles have been in the area since March, and are slowly gaining in popularity. There is some concern, however, that without adequate maintenance the media poles will just become another source of visual pollution instead of signposts leading to a new digital millennium, as they were intended to be.