Week 87: Please install our app to access this content
The August Bank Holiday is, famously, the last before Christmas in public-holiday-starved England, but I didn’t take Monday off. L— was at home working on a paper, so we went to a nearby café for lunch. It was a welcome change to my normal routine.
On Thursday, I went for another long walk. This time, I headed east, to the Essex/Suffolk border for a very pretty, not too hilly, and fairly well shaded route from Wakes Colne to Bures. The latter village straddles two counties, which I think is fairly unusual.
I was pleasantly surprised by the new, clean rolling stock on the journey there. It smelled like a Japanese train, which isn’t newness as such, because even their older carriages smell that way, but is much more pleasant than is usual here.
I wanted to get a few things from Aldi on Friday, but the Aldi on the Old Kent Road closed a few weeks ago. It’s being demolished and replaced with 168 new homes – and a new Aldi. That does seem like a much more efficient use of space in central London.
I looked on the map for the next nearest branch, saw one in Greenwich, and headed there. I walked in, picked up a basket, and walked up to the gate. Which wouldn’t let me in. I heard one of the security guards explaining to some other bemused would-be shoppers that you need to “download the app” to get in. I laughed and walked out. It is, apparently, some techno-dystopian horror in place of a normal shop.
I couldn’t see anyone inside the shop, and the only staff were the two security guards at the entrance.
I’m sure that the technology that follows shoppers and monitors their purchasing is clever, but I don’t think it’s a positive development. Is it really improving society to eliminate all human interaction? It makes it easier to keep out the poor, I suppose. And the app collects a lot of data that you might not want to divulge on every shopping trip. I think, in general, this move towards obliging everyone to install an app to participate in society is a negative development. It’s exclusionary, but it also represents a single point of failure, and a lost, stolen, or broken phone becomes more and more of an existential threat.
It’s not just shops, either. You can’t get into Canada without installing an app. You can’t get into Japan without installing two apps (not that you can easily go there anyway). Is it just me that thinks this is a mad state of affairs?
We went to the Interesting Conference on Saturday. It was, indeed, interesting. It’s surprisingly tiring to take in such a breadth of ideas in a few hours.
I saw many old friends and colleagues, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a few years. Some had had several children in the interim.
The conference was delayed by repeated technical problems. Essentially, as anyone who has worked with them will probably know, Macs can’t handle external displays.