Monday, April 25, 2011

luddite luncheon

We may never wait for a server to bring the check for our meal again, if E La Carte’s “Presto” device catches on. A glorified, toughened-up iPad with a credit card reader included, the Presto could sit on a restaurant table, take your order at the exact moment you are ready, and email your receipt to you. Human servers would still be used to deliver the food, and if you have a really, really complicated order (beyond a simple “dressing on the side”). The Presto could even include games to play, and convenient methods for splitting the check, according to Annie Lowrey’s article.

I love gadgets–-but I love actual human interaction more. One of my great pleasures is to be recognized by the greeters and servers at my local haunts. I feel a glow when they remember my “usual.” Somehow, it would not be the same knowing that the Presto was simply executing an SQL command to retrieve my order history from its databanks. I am glad to see pictures of my favorite servers’ families, to hear their stories, and to occasionally offer sympathy at life’s vicissitudes. I enjoy relating.

I haven’t yet mentioned the privacy issues, nor the fact that we need *more* jobs like this, not fewer.

I half-remember a quotation about the point of life is not to make it faster… I don’t want life to become more difficult, necessarily, but given a choice between “more convenient” and “more rich” I will choose richness. There will always be places for gadgets; let us hope there will also be a place for people.

(full post, with links, at So May We Be)


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