“QR-Coded Menus Are The Worst Idea In The Restaurant Industry” – Slashdot

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An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from an article written by Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic: Thinking back to my first restaurant trips in the 1980s, I vaguely remember waiters taking my grandfather’s credit card and using a manual flatbed printer to make an impression of its embossed numbers. My nephew, born at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, may come of age with similar memories of physical menus as a childhood relic. Dimly remembering when a meal scene in an old movie jogs his memory, he might ask, “Why did they stop using them?” If that happens, I will tell of the plague that raged when he entered the world; the closure of bars and restaurants; the push to reopen in the summer of 2020; the persistent, albeit erroneous, belief that high-touch surfaces, such as restaurant menus, are a significant vector of infection; the CDC attorney in July. “Avoid using or sharing reusable items, such as menus,” the federal agency advised (PDF). “Use disposable or digital menus.”

The QR-code menu – which you access by scanning a black and white square with your smartphone – has since taken off. He can dominate in the future. But I hope not, because I hate those digital menus. Never mind dying peacefully in my sleep; I want to go out sitting in a restaurant for my 100th birthday, an aperitif in my left hand and a paper menu in my right. And as eager as I am for heaven if I’m lucky enough to stand on its doorstep, I want one last look down at a prying paramedic the menu of my fist. In this brighter future, where old-school menus endure, I’ll go to my ballot box happy that generations to come will still start meals by meeting their eyes through a table instead of staring at a screen. QR-code menus aren’t much of a breakthrough. Even when things are going well — when everyone’s phone battery is charged, when Wi-Fi is strong enough to connect, when the link is working — they force a lingering distraction through desserts and digestives. “You can just check what you want your next drink to be,” Jaya Saxena observed in Eater late last year, “but from there it’s easy to start checking texts and emails. -mails.” And wasn’t that already too easy? Friedersdorf cites the 2018 study “Smartphone Use Undermines Enjoyment of Face-to-Face Social Interactions,” in which social psychology researcher Ryan Dwyer and colleagues randomly assigned some people to keep their phones on while dining with friends. friends and others to put it away. What they found was that groups assigned to use their phones “enjoyed the experience less than groups that did not use their phones, primarily due to the fact that participants with phones were more distracted”.

He also notes privacy concerns with QR code menus. Many codes “are actually generated by another company that often collects, uses and shares your personal information,” the ACLU warned. “In fact, companies that provide QR codes to restaurants like to brag about all the personal information you share with that food order: your location, your demographics like gender and age group, and other information about you and your behavior.”

In closing, Friedersdorf writes: “[…] I hope that, rather than remembering the pandemic as a tipping point in the digitalization of restaurants and bars, we instead look at its aftermath as the moment when an increasingly atomized society better understood the costs highs of social isolation, felt a new urgency to counteract it, and settled on analog dining standards as a particularly vital place to focus.”

“What if three times a day society was geared towards replenishing what is increasingly missing from the rest of our waking hours: undistracted human interactions unmediated by technology?”

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