Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Refrigerator: food cathedral, information bazaar

Recently I had to do a little reading about Internet-enabled refrigerators (don’t ask, just don’t ask). LG and Samsung both have them out already (Electrolux announced one a while ago, but I don’t know if it made it to market). What’s interesting is that neither one tries to do the whiz-bang, talking to Peapod to order more groceries when it senses that you’re out of milk, kind of thing. Rather, both play off the fact that families routinely turn the refrigerator into an information bazaar, a clearing-house and display area for everything from finger-painted pictures, report cards, coupons, and phone messages to the family calendar. (Palm’s ill-fated Audrey device also tried to take this practice digital.)

But how did the refrigerator evolve from a food cathedral to an information bazaar? When did families start using it as a bulletin board and calendar? I’m looking around a little, and aside from Jonathan Matthews’s piece on information devices in the home, I can’t find anything written on the secret history of the refrigerator as an information technology. Anyone? Anyone?

[To the tune of Cocteau Twins, “Wolf In The Breast,” from the album Heaven or Las Vegas.]

1 Comment

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