Idly trawling through my multitudes of RSS feeds as I scoffed lunch al desko, I spotted ReadWriteWeb’s latest update on the possibility of Internet Fridges, and how unlike the dream of a fridge that will remind you to get more milk, the current reality is a fridge with an internet-capable device stuck on the front. This in itself is not a bad thing, I’d love a touch screen laptop for the kitchen, but it’s not quite the vision we were promised of a fridge being able to self-audit and re-stock from the internet, saving us busy,busy ppl from having to go the supermarket quite as often or as RWW describes in more detail:
Imagine a refrigerator (so the story goes) that monitors the food inside it and notifies you when you’re low on, for example, milk. It also perhaps monitors all of the best food websites, gathering recipes for your dinners and adding the ingredients automatically to your shopping list. This fridge knows what kinds of foods you like to eat, based on the ratings you have given to your dinners. Indeed the fridge helps you take care of your health, because it knows which foods are good for you and which clash with medical conditions you have. And that’s just part of the sci-fi story of the Internet fridge.
On reading that para, I thought the thing that I’d really like from a proper Internet connected fridge though would be so that it could text me at about 5pm and tell me that I really, really should do something with the mussels I bought last week as they go out-of-date tomorrow. It would also be great if it could add to that text that it might be an idea to pick up fresh salad and bread to go with them, as the stuff I think I have in has, respectively, liquefied and collapsed into a mountain of mould. Now how useful would that be?
Then I realised it wouldn’t be useful, it would just induce guilt, ever increasing amounts of gut-wrenching guilt.
What really happen is this. The fridge would text, I would have already decided that I was eating out that night, so I’d feel a twinge of guilt, think I’ll have them tomorrow and then delete the text. It would then send a slightly more urgent text the next day, and knowing me I’d have other plans already. So I would feel a larger spasm of guilt and delete the text. The following day the fridge would text to tell me that I should take the mussels out and throw them away, bringing more guilt upon my head. As a lazy arse, I’d no doubt not do it immediately and then forget, so it would keep sending messages, which I’d keep ignoring, until one Saturday morning it would refuse to open unless I promised to clear the decks of everything outdated.
Then the next time I asked it what we needed to order from the supermarket, it would suggest that perhaps mussels would be a bad idea as I’d not actually eaten the past 15 packs that I’d bought, despite being reminded to do so in a timely manner. It might also start suggesting that perhaps we should stop bulk ordering cartons of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food , that really some fresh fruit and vegetables should make the occasional appearance and I wasn’t fooling anybody by buying isotonic sports drinks.
I could also envision Fridge 2.0 sending texts messages asking where I’d been every night that week, and did I ever intend on using it as more than a store of for just milk, tonic water and out-of-date mussels? It would no doubt send scathing messages about there being no point opening it to see what it had in at 3am when I hadn’t bothered to be in for any shopping to be delivered in past month, adding under its breath that eating at 3am isn’t the best of ideas anyway. Undoubtedly, after a period of less than six months I will have stopped using it. Reverting to student behaviour of putting milk and butter in a carrier bag and hanging it out of a window. I’d also only be eating takeway on infrequent evenings in. When I did actually stay in, I’d avoid the kitchen and the baleful presence of an inanimate object that had cost me a small fortune and promised to make my life easier.
The final straw would come when it texts my contact number to tell it that I hadn’t opened the it for three weeks and was no doubt lying dead on the kitchen floor, which would like to a final confrontation and result in the fridge givinga brief rendition of ‘Daisy, Dasiy’ and me hitting freecycle to find a serviceable fridge that predates RFID and Cloud computing and demanded nothing more than the salad drawer being scrapped out once every six months.