Thursday, April 13, 2023

Escape the Matrix


I’m not a huge fan of these, but this one definitely gets a pass.

Bukowski's Bar (@cafebreriaelpendulo on Calle Hamburgo) will also on request provide — ungrudgingly — a slickly emplasticado, beautifully designed visual guide to their food and drink offerings. 

I remember the first time I was refused a paper menu. It was in Manhattan, mid-pandemic, and I pulled my best hapless tourist routine, and as there really weren’t many outsiders in New York at that time, they duly sympathised with me and located a slight tatty old list of their victuals, complete with pre-inflation pricing.

But then, last year I was again refused a paper menu in Colombia, along with some pompous posturing. This was almost a walk-out moment, yet I was detained by the challenging assertion of the waiter that this was somehow MY problem to resolve.

I’m not some sort of slavering luddite. I established myself in the field of technology, but that also means I have a few opinions around appropriate use.

As a traveller, I know how hard it can be to keep a single device charged during an active day right through to dinner time without juggling opportunity costs i.e. do I shoot that video or is my tummy rumbling a bit too much already?
And in this particular city I anyway lost my roaming privileges for extended periods.

Beyond these perhaps personal gripes, there are some other matters at stake here. If I were a dad I believe I would resent the implication that I could not so easily regulate my offsprings’ use of connected devices at dinnertime. (This works the other way a bit too: the etiquette of dining out was imposed on me from a very young age, yet once I had been seen to absorb it, I was permitted a degree of independence, such as my own menu, which I valued.)

And then there are some rather obvious usability issues. In their latter years I watched my own parents struggle with large print tabloid-format menus. And even at my age I am yet to find a QR-accessed presentation as easy to navigate intuitively as any printed one.

And let’s face it, Colombia, along with Guatemala and Mexico recently showed themselves incapable of competently coding and deploying a fully-useable online health verification form for all visitors — and this against a backdrop of what I would describe as an overall decline in consideration for accessibility and usability across all Web platforms in the past decade or so, but with mobile a particular offender. (I reckon el Feis insensitised us all to terrible interface design.)
Anyway, try this wooden one out. First one takes a nostalgic trip back to a late 90s landing page and then, if Comidas y Cenas are selected, one reaches a barely readable PDF presentation of the printed menu. 

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