Technological wonder of the day

So the extended tribe is here for the summer and the stepdaugther has just, from her laptop, added £10 to the lunch money of the granddaughter for use next week. She gets a little fob that she waves at the dinner ladies.

So far so good, stops people being beaten up for their dinner money I suppose. And now the wonder: the school actually provides, online, a register of what is then bought with that little moneyfob. It’s not quite possible thus to monitor what is being eaten at school for of course nothing ever works that way (“swapsies” for example) but what is bought can be checked.

Important? Exciting? Probably neither but there is certainly a lot that this technological revolution is providing that just isn’t showing up in the GDP figures.

21 comments on “Technological wonder of the day

  1. “a lot that this technological revolution is providing that just isn’t showing up in the GDP figures.”
    Are you putting this down as an increase in productivity or a decrease? What value are you assigning to to the time spent monitoring the offspring’s lunching habits, bearing in mind no-one’s had the slightest interest in doing so beforehand?

  2. Is the monitoring of lunches providing value to anyone?

    Is the proliferation of different keycards, fobs, smartcards, chipcards, touch’n’pay systems and so on, all of which you have to load with “credit” (actually, you are providing credit to the supplier, so the use is quite wrong) providing value to those forced to use them? Or were those forced to use them better served by the universal medium of notes and coins, supplemented by a nearly-universally-accepted credit card?

  3. I don’t see any benefit to this. I see it as children suffering a loss of privacy, of the kind we all suffer more and more; monitored and checked against an ever more intrusive and expansive moralist checklist.

    How this can be presented in this curious way as an increase in value is beyond me.

  4. IT & data collection.
    Lurking in the in-tray I have a 14 page survey to complete for a stockbrokers. Numerous multiple choice questions & requests for personal information. It asks for educational attainments A-level, higher, postgrad. The subject of the survey is my father who is 88. It asks for a breakdown of his personal spending. Property costs, utility bills, school fees… It is, I’m told, a requirement of the Financial Regulatory Authority & a covering explanatory note tells me; failure to complete will result in the broker withdrawing their services.
    The value it adds?
    I can only note: In the days when I worked for a broker, the client’s personal affairs were his own business. Our transaction charges were 1 1/4% in a time when the tools of the trade were a pencil, a dealing book & a mechanical calculator (if you were lucky). Currently, brokers charge 1 1/2%.

  5. I’m with Ian B. The thought of Mrs G. gaining access to the little fob I wave at the barman in the Dog & Duck.

  6. @Bernie G,

    You can appease her by waving the fob you presumably don’t wave at the barmaid.

  7. “What did you have for lunch today?” was a question my mum asked all of us kids nearly every day when I was at school. The time she spent trying to get uncooperative offspring to answer her properly was undoubtedly greater than the time it would take to look it up on a website!

  8. It depends whose money you consider it to be.

    Imagine all the MPs had a little Parliamentary expenses fob, that they could wave at people for whatever they want, and you the taxpayer whose money it is could look up on a website what they were spending your taxes on…

    Prohibitionist parents will only give their children an early lesson in how to circumvent such regulation – something that will no doubt stand them in good stead in their adult lives. Sensible parents who think their children deserve privacy will no doubt grant it.

  9. I’m with Ian. The creepy next step is going to be the school loading up the week’s menu and the parents pre-selecting the child’s meals – all in the interests of the child’s health and keeping waste down.

    One more step for helicopter parents and another freedom lost to children, who will be infantilised for even longer.

  10. How about if we all had a little spending fob and the nice helpful government could see what we bought along with when and where we bought it to make sure we spent all our money wisely and sensibly.

    Just for convenience lets call the fob a credit card or an oyster card.

  11. It’s to get the little ones used to ubiquitous surveillance and proving their identity for even the most trivial transaction.

  12. Completely OT but Ashya’s father drops a bomb on the NHS, kind of confirming my suspicion that they took him out of the hospital because they didn’t like the treatment he was getting.

    It looks like his doctors said take the treatment we offer, we won’t let you get better treatment elsewhere and if you make a fuss we’ll take your child off you.

    http://youtu.be/14ETQn9ZPwk

    Great that the family fight back on social media rather than just letting the authorities present the story.

  13. everyone watches everyone. And , sooner or later, everyone reports on everyone.
    It’s all for your own good.

  14. Might the pre-paid fobs be a way of disguising (from other pupils) who has free school meals?

    “Important? Exciting? Probably neither but there is certainly a lot that this technological revolution is providing that just isn’t showing up in the GDP figures.”

    Is the school doing anything with the data beyond letting parents see what their children are buying? I suppose it might be of interest to researchers looking into the eating habits of schoolchildren, NHS obesity co-ordinators and the like.

    A detailed audit trail of food purchases may also be useful for the school in determining how local the food is and that kind of crap.

  15. NiV
    August 30, 2014 at 9:35 pm
    Who picks their meals when they’re at home?

    Which is why the should be given the opportunity of choice at school as part of the growing up process.

  16. “Which is why the should be given the opportunity of choice at school as part of the growing up process.”

    Depends how you want to educate kids about the world. The other face of choice is consequences.
    One advantage of the school dinners regime of my youth was you learnt consequences. With no menu choice, if you didn’t like it & didn’t eat it – you went hungry. If you went to the shops to buy something else – you didn’t have the money left in your pocket for other things.
    All this closely parallels how the world works. A useful lesson. Choice is not necessarily a right but dependent on larger choices.
    There are generations who didn’t learn this as kids & failed to appreciate it in later life. So we get today’s world.

  17. @Bloke with a Boat: August 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    The creepy next step is going to be the school loading up the week’s menu and the parents pre-selecting the child’s meals

    Probably better than “skool dinnerz” when I were a lad… You only had two choices, “eat what’s presented or go hungry”.. 🙂

    More worrying is how long before each child’s record is analysed by the “food police” resulting in a dawn raid on the parents because their child is “eating an inappropriate diet”?

  18. Gareth:

    Might the pre-paid fobs be a way of disguising (from other pupils) who has free school meals?

    That might be among the excuses. It doesn’t explain fingerprinting to borrow a library book.

  19. “Which is why the should be given the opportunity of choice at school as part of the growing up process.”

    I agree, they should. If it’s an informed choice, and they’re old enough to understand long-term consequences. Child rights is an interesting question for the libertarian. The usual approach regards children as unable to give *informed* consent, hence parental responsibility and authority. Personally, I don’t think setting a fixed age for becoming an adult is necessarily the best answer, but for very young children it’s usually considered reasonable for parents to make decisions on their behalf. (Although not everyone agrees, and there are people who think the age of consent for various adult activities should be brought down.)

    This is difficult,m though. Parents don’t always have their best interests at heart. Parents are usually better than the alternatives, but they’re not always perfect.

    I would agree that parents should give children autonomy as soon as they’re ready for it – but not before. If the child shows by their choices they’re not able to act responsibly, then it’s no service to them to let them grow up that way. If you shield them from the consequences they don’t learn, and it’s cruel and unjust to make them face the consequences if they were not capable of understanding what they were doing. (As in: ‘Steal a toy, go to prison.’) We have a responsibility to be in control of ourselves, to be responsible, so that society doesn’t need to be. And children need to be taught it.

    And it’s up to parents when that age will be. If parents think they can cope, they’ll let them make their own choices about meals at home and at school. It’s unfortunate if you get bad parents who over-control, but who makes the decision about when parents are to be overruled? The State?

    When the children are earning their own money, they can decide how to spend it. While the parents are paying, they get to set conditions.

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