Thursday, September 27

Turn Me On!

Judging by the number of cellphones per person in Italy (the highest count in the world), and automatic everything here, I assure you, Italians are great technophiles. After all, it was Marconi who gave us the fax machine, Da Vinci the flying machine & Volta, well, volts have played a pretty significant role in making it all work. Italians brought Robotics to Detroit, & even invented the fast lanes which automatically deduct the highway tolls (of course, as a former Detroiter, one can always make the case that we shouldn’t be paying for them in the first place). I was introduced recently to a fantastic gadget which allows you to automatically set your parking meter with a pre-paid thingamagig. They even have vending machines which serve hot pasta.

And so, it’s with great surprise, that they invent or introduce these things, but can’t manage to actually run them.

I remember when I first arrived in Italy in 1985, it was the year that companies decided they would go Pc (and I don’t mean politically correct). There they were, on every single desktop from the Director to the Doorman, turned off, bearing plants, and draped with covers that made them look like mini-coffins. Everyone just carried on doing the work as they always had, by hand (and I worked in a bank)!

With an almost maniacal fervor, those technologies are hooked up faster than white on risotto. At the Borghese Gallery, they installed a million-dollar x-ray machine, placing it strategically in the most prime retail slot in the entire gallery, and then, left it turned off for over 8 years. Every time I asked them to move it, and let us provide visitor services there instead, I was told that the machine was an essential security measure. I guess they were counting on the power of suggestion to dissuade would-be terrorists intent on blowing up the luggage room.

The Milan train station once installed dozens of automatic schedule notices, and in their zealotry, they ripped down all the paper ones. Aside from creating kilometer-wide lines desperate for a glimpse at the schedule, before long, none of the machines were working. And none of the posters were put back up. I must say, though, they had a record year of schedule book sales (I think I had purchased at least nine myself).

On buses and commuter trains throughout the boot, you’ll find handy little electronic boards running scrolling messages. Too bad the message tells you nothing else then the final destination. Aside from that small detail being posted handily on the outside of the bus, what one needs is an idea of the NAME of their actual STOP scrolling by while you're actually in the bus.

Traveling around a country which prides itself on Tourism, I wonder when, exactly, the on-switch will be turned on to make it easier for the tourists.

1 comment:

Irreverent Italy said...

Well, I am now in Milano and on my bus, the stops were actually showing up on the electronic board. Perhaps my prayers have been answered.