I am always fascinated at the displays various technologies have to divulge information about the system status to the human operators. In movies, most of these displays just don't make sense.
Take War Games, for instance. The WOPR-core is stationed in a sort of clean-room (which was probably de rigeur at the time the movie was made). Along the walls are 19"-racks, with lots of Blinken Lights... And someone is going around the room, armed with a clipboard, and making notes, presumably of which lights are blinking and which not. Obviously, that doesn't convey any useful information (at least not at the cursory glance the bit-part actor is giving it -- apparently Blinken Lights could convey useful information if you knew how to look at it).
WTF is up with that? Just a random pattern of blinking lights don't convey any useful information -- why not just pull up a console monitor and have the computer display useful text messages?
Another example is Jurassic Park. The evil hacker has unleashed the dino's and is making off with the genetic data. Our heroes have to master the computer, in order to stop further mayhem from occuring.
The girl looks at the screen, and says: "Oh, yeah, this is Unix, I know this." OK, so far so good: all is well in the world when 11-year old girls know Unix, right? But then she navigates through a graphical display with the mouse. WTF is up with that? How is that useful? How is that Unix!?
I think the movie makers want us to feel alienated from technology. The Computer is a mysterious machine that can be used for good or, at the drop of a hat, for evil. And you'd never know until it was too late: the Machines are mysterious and only the High Priests of Technology can mediate for the poor huddled masses.
There is a distinct Luddite slant in movies, not just in the past, but also recently (see: I, Robot or The Matrix) -- but that's the subject of a later post.
In honor of the nonsensical displays, I made this icon. Ten points if you can spot where it's from!
(Also, for the enterprising casemodder, there is Project BlinkenLEDs -- I'm available for help if you want to make such a thing!)