All posts tagged: given store

The Barcode Engineered Its Own Downfall

The Barcode Engineered Its Own Downfall

[ad_1] To marvel at the choice and convenience of modern shopping, go visit your grocery-store mustard aisle. My local Whole Foods sells more than 20 different kinds: basic yellow mustard and Grey Poupon, yes, but also “spicy brown mustard” and “banana-pepper mustard” and “no-sugar-added honey mustard” and “organic salt-free mustard.” There is “uniquely sharp mustard”(!), and “sulfite-free original Dijon mustard squeeze”(!?). Such dizzying choices are made possible by an amazing piece of technology: the barcode. These black-and-white lines are machine-speak for an item’s Universal Product Code, which allows a scanner to tell you exactly what the item is, and draw up its price in any given store. The barcode is why a cashier can quickly scan your stuff, shove it into a bag, and hand you a receipt (and how self-checkout kiosks are able to make you do all the work). And because the barcode allows for incredible efficiency in tracking and managing inventory, it is a large part of why grocery stores now have a paralyzing number of options. Around the time the barcode …