Book: Information Architecture with XML: A Management Strategy
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
In the ‘good old days’ before food labelling, sell-by dates and competitive brand promotion,you placed yourself at the mercy of your local village store manager. After thepainful wait for the previous customer to bid his farewells and finally let attention turnyour way, you placed your trust in the nice old guy who knew his store and his supplies.You often ended up with more than you bargained for, with a tip thrown in on the bestand freshest deals of the day, a few extra ingredients to spice up that special recipe and asummary of the latest village gossip.The intelligence of the ‘system’ – the management of a wide range of foods and ingredients– was human: a customer’s questions dealt with personally and a cumulativeknowledge of their needs and interests allowing a truly personal service to be offered.The model doesn’t scale well, however. Customers today want wider choice and availability,better prices and faster service, so the supermarket revolution was born. Thedownside for customers was the need to ‘internalize’ that grocer’s wisdom and assesstheir purchases for themselves: the shelf stackers could point you to the flours but wouldbe hard pushed to tell which one was best for waffles. Even if they did have an opinionon the matter, they probably wouldn’t have been allowed to express it, for fear of beingseen to promote one brand over another.Then is there is the question of quality and trust. In many countries, it has taken majorfood quality and health scares to prompt public authorities to interpose themselvesbetween producer and consumer and insist on food labelling, quality control regulationsand inspection. In parallel, the growth of the fast food outlet offered ‘no-questionsasked,no-answers-given’ solutions to the busy and/or unimaginative: fast and cheap,benefiting from economies of scale and industrial-style production, as long as youaccept the pre-determined and pre-packaged realization of someone else’s flight offancy.