[Humanist] 27.303 kitchen computer

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Aug 31 10:07:21 CEST 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 303.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    "Jan Rybicki" <jkrybicki at gmail.com>                       (88)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?

  [2]   From:    Erik Hanson <erikalanhanson at gmail.com>                    (55)
        Subject: Re:  27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?

  [3]   From:    marjorie.burghart at free.fr                                  (7)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?

  [4]   From:    Daniel O'Donnell <daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca>               (29)
        Subject: Re:  27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 10:39:58 +0200
        From: "Jan Rybicki" <jkrybicki at gmail.com>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?
        In-Reply-To: <20130830071315.45EDA2FF2 at digitalhumanities.org>


In fact, until quite recently, the desktop PC in my kitchen/dining room was
the family's strongest computer and it still is the one with the greatest
hard disk(s). But not for recipes: this is where all the family photos and
films are stored, so that they can be viewed via network on the big TV
screen (also in the kitchen/dining area), the only right way to look at
photos made by today's multimegapixel digital camera. I would say that
recipe-finding is that computer's fourth function rather than first or
second (I'm taking the fifth and I refuse to say what that second is, but
it's somehow connected with movies) or even third (Internet grocery
shopping, since it's close to the fridge; usually even a smartphone is
handier for recipes). In other words, our kitchen computer has adapted
itself to the function of the kitchen/dining area: the place where the
family come together (it is also interesting how our TV has completely lost
its primary function of displaying live broadcasts).

Yet I think our kitchen computers do not deserve that name yet. They only
will when the prophesy comes true from one of my childhood favourites, a
1966 Polish book for kids by Zbigniew Przyrowski, "W krainie jutra" (In the
land of tomorrow), a nicely illustrated depiction of everyday life in the
near future (early 21st century); ironically, published in the drab and
backward reality of Central-Eastern-European Communism, many of the
illustrations showcase technical goodies already available in the degenerate
West, such as gigantic microwave ovens. But there is a computer in the
kitchen of the family in the book. BTW, the kitchen is round, and the mother
- who else! - moves around it on a self-propelled stool. And she uses a
computer to plan her meals AND shop; selected recipes are digitally
converted into shopping lists and the ingredients find their way into the
fridge (it is not exactly explained how); the computer then controls the
various "electronic ovens" to boil, sautee or roast the products just right
(again, the way they get from the fridge to the oven is unclear).
It is interesting that it seems we have gone further in modifying gender
roles than in digitizing cooking.

And it is interesting how the incomplete digitization of the kitchen seems
to reflect the incomplete digitization of the humanities. For good or bad.

Best,
Jan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: humanist-bounces at lists.digitalhumanities.org [mailto:humanist-
> bounces at lists.digitalhumanities.org] On Behalf Of Humanist Discussion
> Group
> Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 9:13 AM
> To: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> Subject: [Humanist] 27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?
> 
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 302.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>         Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 08:08:13 +0100
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: the curious return of the kitchen computer
> 
> Some time ago, in the house of friends in the New South Wales bush, I
> was introduced to the idea of a computer in the kitchen. I don't know
> to what extent they use the old desktop machine while cooking, but for
> looking things up during an ongoing discussion over the dinner table or
> in the sitting room, it seemed perfect. Then, later back home in London
> I began using my iPad for consulting recipes rather than printing them
> out. This iPad, whose role in my research has been usurped by a newer
> model, seemed perfect as a permanent fixture as my kitchen computer. I
> discovered that mounting brackets of various kinds are abundant, so as
> soon as the one I selected arrives, this old iPad will be installed as
> one.
> 
> Somewhere along the line I ran across the Honeywell Kitchen Computer of
> the 1960s, described and discussed by Paul Atkinson, "The Curious Case
> of the Kitchen Computer: Products and Non-Products in Design History",
> Journal of Design History 23/2 (2010): 163-79. The iPad is a very
> different piece of kit, but the early sighting of an essential role for
> computing, in an environment where menus are essential, provides a good
> example of function before form.
> 
> What are the differences made by a computer replacing a recipe book? I
> would think that the convenience, allowing a threshold to be crossed,
> of drawing upon recipes from around the world would have a considerable
> if subtle and slow effect. What others might there be?
> 
> Comments?
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
> Humanities, University of Western Sydney




--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 06:29:13 -0500
        From: Erik Hanson <erikalanhanson at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?
        In-Reply-To: <20130830071315.45EDA2FF2 at digitalhumanities.org>


Anecdotal evidence: We don't have a dedicated kitchen computer, though our
apartment is small enough that our kitchenette is within arm's reach of
three computers and a tablet, plus smart phones. What I've noticed is that
our cook books tend to get annotated and otherwise near the marks of past
use (the of grease spot, maybe some flour). Online recipes only get
modified/personalized if we print them or otherwise save them in an
editable format. If those online recipes aren't covered in some way, it can
be really hard to remember enough information to find a particular recipe
again -- the exception being when a recipe is associated with a celebrity
chef.


--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 13:42:19 +0200 (CEST)
        From: marjorie.burghart at free.fr
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?
        In-Reply-To: <20130830071315.45EDA2FF2 at digitalhumanities.org>


> What are the differences made by a computer replacing a recipe book?

I wouldn't know, I've never really used recipe books. 

You might be interested to know that, at least in France (maybe because it's a cuisine-obsessed country?), there are already tablets specially designed for kitchen use. The first one was, I believe, the rather expensive Qooq: 
http://www.fnac.com/Tablette-QooQ-V2-10-1-LED-Rouge/a3679528/w-4
More recently, Archos launched a more reasonably priced ChefPad: 
http://www.01net.com/editorial/595503/chefpad-la-tablette-archos-pour-les-amateurs-de-cuisine/

Best regards, MB



--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 10:57:08 -0400
        From: Daniel O'Donnell <daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca>
        Subject: Re:  27.302 what difference a kitchen computer?
        In-Reply-To: <20130830071315.45EDA2FF2 at digitalhumanities.org>


We've had a dedicated kitchen computer for years--maybe a decade. It 
initially had two purposes: showing family pictures when not being used 
(a continuous loop screensaver) and settling dinner table arguments 
about etymologies, historical facts, etc. Recipe look up actually came 
later (before we remodeled the kitchen, the computer was beside the 
table, not the cooking area).

Now it has acquired two other functions: recipe lookup and homework 
station. The children do a lot of homework writing there, I write most 
of my blog posts there, and my wife and I both tend to use it for 
teleconferences.

In terms of your question about impact, one we've seen for sure is 
generational. Out kitchen computer now sits right above the cookbook 
shelf. I was going to show my daughter (born 1999 and solely captured on 
digital cameras) how to cook something and told her to grab the Joy of 
Cooking to look it up. She asked why anybody would /print/ recipes.

Although she sometimes pulls our leg on digital things, I think this 
time she was genuinely confused: it had simply not occurred to her that 
recipes might come in books.

Have you seen the various holders for iPads in the Kitchen? A store near 
us sells ones in the shape of a hand. In two sizes: one for the iPad, 
the other for the iPhone.

-- 
---
Daniel Paul O'Donnell
Professor of English
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
Canada

+1 403 393-2539





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