My new favorite thing in the whole wide world. It's not really all that techy or geeky, but there's a lot to be said for the desirability of pure, unadulterated novelty. If you haven't seen these yet (I found my first one at Albertsons), they're essentially the same as a self-serve, pay-at-the-pump gas station. You swipe your own groceries, you pay with cash or your card. The key difference is that most people (who don't live in Oregon) are more or less competent at pumping their own gas, or consider themselves to be, and thus don't mind having the entire transaction involve only themselves and a computer. Grocery shopping, on the other hand, is an area where the 31337 can be clearly seperated from the rest of the herd. In the context of a grocery store, our time has come. The geeks shall inherit the earth.

If you don't see what I mean, try and picture the shopper you never want to see ahead of you in line: the elderly person with sensible priorities that don't require hurrying everywhere so as to feel fulfilled, the single parent with multiple young, unwieldy children, the guy who has to attempt to flirt with all the cashiers by regaling them with stories of his fishing trips.. These people will not use the self check-out aisle. At least, not for a very long time. No, these aisles are for the geeks, for people who aren't afraid of machines, who do not seek out social interaction in any form they can find it, who want a shopping experience as streamlined and elegant as possible, like any well-functioning system should be.

Just when you thought the dumbing down of PCs and the internet threatened to allow the technological-have-nots to invade our turf and stall the fight for intellectual evolution, everything switches and we invade the fortresses of mainstream society. Good or bad, it's interesting to watch.

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