From the Editor: Spring 2018
By Laura Aiken
Whether your inclinations fall total techie, staunch Luddite, or somewhere fair to middling, I bet Apple’s next big thing that you have opinions about technology meandering in and out of your mind most days. Whether we are trying to escape it, reaching for it, cursing it or loving it, it’s presence is pervasive; cue understatement.
This edition’s CAMA Connection touches on technology as a force for change in the vending industry, as does our Dispensing Strategies column by Michelle Brisebois on blockchain. Our feature on coffee and tea trends surely does as it’s technology that is enabling the fevered customization so desired. Our cover story gets at the heart of a different angle, when Réal Bertrand recalls how different the workplace seems nowadays from his perspective of people glued to their mobile devices rather than sharing a beer and trading stories as in the past. Anyone who has sensed displaced camaraderie in the face of an addictive little screen is sure to harbour some nostalgia and resentments. Some would say that’s age dependent, but anybody can be the victim of “ignored via screen”. Probably everybody is.
Wherever your personal emotions fall in regards to technology is irrelevant to the requirement to take its opportunities to stay competitive in business. Serving customers is never about how we wish things are, but about delivering what they want. People are often impressed by slick new gadgetry, but at the heart of this is its newness. Technology is a never-ending route to filling an ancient human need for novelty (each to their own in varying degrees). The New York Times published a fascinating article on the subject in 2012 called “What’s New? Exuberance for Novelty Has Benefits” by John Tierney. In it, Tierney reports the novelty-seeking personality trait has its own measurement system in the mental health field, and researchers found that it can be an important predictor of well-being when combined with other traits (perseverance and self-transcendence). Tierney notes research by journalist Winifred Gallagher that novelty seeking, or “neophilia” as it also known, is a trait that provided much impetus for migration in the life of early home sapiens, and thus played a critical role in the development of our species. Gallagher also notes that curiosity was thought of as a vice in the pre-industrial era and boredom didn’t become a popular word until the 19th century. Tierney captured a great quote from Gallagher that sums up what many of us grapple with when it comes to technology: “We now consume about 100,000 words each day from various media, which is a whopping 350 percent increase, measured in bytes, over what we handled back in 1980,” Ms. Gallagher says. “Neophilia spurs us to adjust and explore and create technology and art, but at the extreme it can fuel a chronic restlessness and distraction.” Considering this was published in 2012, it is quite possible those consumption numbers are exponentially out of date. Technology lives life on an autobahn.
As much as the adoption of technology will fulfill the quest for what is new, there is a strong nostalgic consumerism sentiment that can’t be ignored. There’s a real tug between what is safe and familiar and what is unknown. It is as if putting something in 1950s packaging in a micro market could be a real win-win. However you forge ahead in the use of the various technologies (cashless payments, micro markets, etc.) changing the vending game, bear the motivations of novelty in mind and how it is both a grand and wild force.