Thursday, October 26, 2017

Just how dumb can “smart phones” make us?


Somehow your humble correspondent has managed to get by without tethering himself to a “smart phone.”  We do have a last-century flip-phone for infrequent use when out of the house,

Otherwise, we find ourselves in that bemused and confused demographic that watches clusters of humans – sometimes families, sometimes friends – enjoy each other’s company at various public places.  As long as you define “each other’s company” as simultaneous, individual fixation on their handheld micromasters.

For some time now, we’ve been telling friends and acquaintances “you don’t own a smart-phone; the smart-phone owns you.”

Given our graduate degrees in computer design and computer science, we are conversant in the basic technology inherent in such devices, and do not in the least consider them magical or anything similar.  At the same time, we marvel at how easily and deeply they take over the essence of a person’s humanity, especially as it relates to fundamental human interaction.

So, when we ran across this little doozie in the Scrapbook section of the latest edition of The Weekly Standard, we decided it shows just how far “smart” technology can take one in the direction of cluelessness, and we dare say, stupidity.

We hope it inspires you to download another 100 or so time-saving/convenience apps to your little electronic servant.  And please take a selfie of yourself for the record as you do so.  You never know when you could become the star of a similar article. 

Maybe even here on Other Side.  Wouldn’t that be special!


Not Very App-etizing

Oct 30, 2017 | By THE SCRAPBOOK


The Scrapbook has a smartphone, but we are sorely tempted to go back to a flip phone. Or maybe something with a dial. Smartphones were supposed to make everything easier, but we’re not so sure.

Take the craze for ordering takeout food and drink products via mobile app. You still have to go, physically, to a store location to get your item—say, a grande Americano at Starbucks—but you’re led to believe it’s more convenient to order and pay for your latte via mobile app. That way you just waltz through the store and pick it up. No waiting in lines!

It sounds so simple, so efficient, so modern. That is, until you actually try it. As we learned from a lovely piece in the Wall Street Journal recently, all sorts of problems arise. Chief among them: Customers order their items from the wrong store. Their phones assumed they wanted their items from the store nearest to them when they placed the order, but in fact they were headed to a different store—meaning they now own a grande Americano in a coffeeshop five blocks from where they happen to be. Another problem: long lines of mobile-order customers. Ordinary, non-mobile customers see the long lines and assume the store’s overcrowded; they turn away, resulting in lower overall profits for the store. Yet another problem: Mobile-order customers feel guilty about grabbing their items while others wait in line. So they wait in line anyway, defeating the whole point.

Lost revenue, purchases of faraway Americanos, guilty feelings .  .  . good grief. We appreciate the need to improve products and shorten delivery times, and we are committed free-marketeers. But we can’t help laughing at companies that try to enhance their profits by developing smartphone-friendly purchase options that demoralize and confuse their customers. If the coffee’s good, we’ll wait an extra 90 seconds. We don’t mind. Just don’t make us download your idiotic app.


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