Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Pseudo-personalization is the by-product of big companies getting bigger and technology getting stupider. We are greeted by automated recordings and automated-sounding people, devising the illusion of intimacy, when in it is only artifice. This morning in Starbucks I was startled when the cashier asked me my name after taking my order. Subsequently she, and the worker down the counter at a coffee machine, bellowed, filling the small corner shop: "Tall mocha for Nathan!"

It wasn't necessary and it wasn't endearing; it was unsettling, like bank teller blaring your balance to the people waiting. There should be laws on how technologies and services can use first names. The other night I got to Jewel after midnight. My receipt faithfully introduced my cashier: "Hello I'm OVERNIGHT." My roommate got a better one from the alchohol section: "Hello I'm LIQUOR."

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