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siri meets metadata at the supermarket

“The more complex the network is, the more complex its pattern of interconnections, the more resilient it will be.” – Fritjof Capra

Fritjof Capra is an Austrian-born American physicist, systems theorist and deep ecologist. In 1995, he became a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California. He is on the faculty of Schumacher College. 


“The more complex the network is, the more complex its pattern of interconnections, the more problems you will have to face at the checkout.” – Siri

Siri works for Apple. She’s Karen Jacobsen from Queensland.

Fritjof, meet Siri.

Metadata is data that describes other data. Meta is a prefix that in most information technology usages means “an underlying definition or description.” Metadata summarises basic information about data, which can make finding and working with particular instances of data easier.


What you have here is a shopper making their way to an automatic checkout slot in Woolworths – could be you, could be me – and this is what might happen when Retail Software meets Siri and Metadata, meets facial recognition, meets store CCTV, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp.

My Health Record  .. that new thing.

Remember Cambridge Analytica, those inquisitive bastards? This is theirs. Or was.

Basic software per reader – $95,000

Software support per month per reader – $55,000

Upgrades per reader – $75,000

Sign here please __________________

Fritjof and Siri, meet Alex. Police records our speciality.


Bill Stumps is about sixty-five, lives in Byron, alone, and is partial to a drink any time of day. Known for it in fact. Today Bill is doing his weekly shopping at Woolworths: pension day, full trolley.

Bill slides into the automatic checkout section and begins to unload his trolley, pass the items through the bar-code reader and bag them. What Bill doesn’t know, yet, is that the bar-code reader has been fully uploaded with the above.*

‘Hello, Bill,’ says Siri, ‘still constipated?’

Bill has just checked a pack of Lansoy Laxative Jelly, as he did last week, and the week before. Booze and micro-waved fried chicken curry can do that to a man.

Irene Backbend checks a tube of Polident and a box of Steradent. Then a mega-pack of Werthers Hard Toffees.

‘Hi, Irene, ‘says Siri, ‘are you sure you want to do that?’

Max Youbro, eighteen, holidaying alone in a Byron caravan park, lives in Sydney, shopping at Lismore. Max checks out his trolley, fully loaded.

‘Well, hello Max,’ says Siri, ‘how do you reckon on getting back to the van park?’

Max’s licence has been suspended. Cancelled even.

Roger Foxley checks out two Bic lighters, three five-packs of Tally Ho cigarette papers, a bottle of Biotene mouthwash a pack of Peter Stuyvesant red 20’s a pack of fifteen small plastic bags and six tomato stakes.

‘Hello Roger,’ Siri says,’ next time it’ll be two years. Just sayin’.

Roger has a few outstanding items that relate to a dodged court appearance for the consideration of illegal substance growing and selling, not to mention smoking.

Sally Beadjangles takes her turn at Reader 4. Sally is in a hurry. She passes her packet of dried soup through the reader, twitches.

‘Hi Sally,’ says Siri, ‘you want to put back that pack of soup you drop-kicked under a fixture in aisle 5?’

Freddy Trunkline, 58, forgot to shave on Monday last week and hasn’t since. And what little you can see of his hair under his beanie makes you happy he’s wearing one. Freddy is wheeling in six two-litre plastic gargantuans of Coke, heads for reader 2.

‘Hi Freddy, ‘Siri says,’but it’s not going to happen, ok?’

Freddy has diabetes and occasionally he weakens, particularly when the Rabbitohs are winning.

Zipsalong Maharitis next. Buds in both his ears, cap-beak at the back, Tshirt extra large. Listening to Finneas O’Connell backbeating his sister’s songs.

Zip bumped into an old fellow in aisle 5, knocked him off his step but just kept walking. That’s because Billie Eilish is Supermarket Music for the Discerning.

Zip is at the reader for a bag of Doritos.

‘Hello Zip,’ says Siri, ‘here, have this on me.’

Then, when Zip touches the reader for a negative on the do you want a receipt question, he cops a severe zap through both of his phone-jacks. Then another one, because he needs to harden up.

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