Kiosks, technology, and culture

Yet another article that mocks the introduction of an automated technology. In this case, it’s a self-serve postal kiosk in San Francisco. Several silly examples in the story where people struggle to figure out how to use it, taking longer than the line for a real person, where the machine asks for lots and lots of extra info (since it has no a priori context like a human might), and so on.

Some themes that we now know

  1. Lots and lots of stuff is badly designed
  2. Many people can’t easily become quick at interacting with a new computer system
  3. Some tasks are more appropriate for a kiosk than others.
  4. Lack of context in an automated system and the resultant work the system (and thus the user) must do in order to establish that context reads as silly, funny, frustrating, and unacceptable

It’s impossible from these stories to tell, of course, what’s really going on. Me, I love self-check even if I have to fight it, even if I have to bend my natural tendencies to work the way it wants me to work. Maybe it’s being an introvert, or a bit of a technology geek, or curious, or just the idea that there’s a scam to be had by being savvy and checking out automatically rather than the usual way.


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