Something incredible just happened! I went food shopping in under 2 minutes….. using my iPad.
Growing up, my mother would take me and my two siblings with her when she went grocery shopping. She would pile us three kids in the Dodge Grand Caravan; drive 10 minutes to Walbaum’s; go up and down each aisle checking things off her list; wait in the checkout line with multiple carts full of food; pile us (and the groceries) back in the Caravan; and drive the 10 minutes back home. To my amazement, she always managed to single-handledly get us kids, and the groceries, back in the house and put away safely. We went shopping about once a week, and it took about 2 hours.
Just a moment ago, I picked up my iPad and launched the Fresh Direct application. Using simple graphics, I slid my fingers down the list, selected items, selected a time for my groceries to be delivered directly to my doorstep, and paid for the groceries with my credit card.
Apple and Fresh Direct have transformed a 2 hour, hectic grocery trip into an easy 2 minute experience. Now that’s cool!
Adam, you live in Manhattan, you shop for two adults and not a growing family of four, and the nearest supermarket is probably less than two blocks away. You’re either trying to reconcile a childhood experience that traumatized you (get counseling) or you’re trying to show off a very neat app. 😉
But this reminds me of a discussion I had with my colleagues at lunch yesterday. Every time there’s a technological advance, we discover opportunities to do things we never imagined previously. But we also run the risk of losing something important. For example, I find it very disturbing that more than 75% of my students have never used the library. They do a great deal of reading and research, but they do it from the comfort of their homes via the Internet. I do that, too, but I’ve never been averse to going to a library (And I mean any library–our students don’t use the public library either!) and getting my hands on a real book. That’s a valuable experience our students might be missing out on. Roving the bookshelves, students might find materials they’d never think to look for online, the same way you might find an interesting new kind of soap or a sale on your favorite treat in the supermarket. (Really, Adam, pudding snacks?)
I think that your anecdote provides an important lesson: while you’re talking about the drudgery of being dragged to the supermarket, you’re also talking about a memory of your childhood, time spent with your mother and siblings. Someday, you’re likely to look back on those days with fondness. I doubt you’ll look back with the same fondness on the experience of shopping on your iPad. As we go forward with academic technology, we must try to reconcile a lot of things, including accessibility, innovation and quality education. Our students should also leave college with an education–whether it’s distance education or in the traditional classroom–that is something they’ll look back on twenty years from now as a rich, valued experience. That should and must always be a priority.
And yes, it is way cool!