Slower than paper

Palo Alto’s Peninsula Creamery operates two restaurants with identical menus. The one downtown uses traditional paper order pads; the one at the Stanford Shopping Center uses a bulky portable electronic gadget.

Yesterday I ate at the shopping center branch, and I noticed the server hunting for the button as I reeled off options (“wheat toast”, “hash browns”). The process was distinctly slower than with paper.

The custom of using selection lists in computer interfaces derives from work showing that it’s easier for humans to select from a list than to remember a command, but maybe they’re both slower than have the server scrawl the brief code that the diner has been using for years.

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